Will Israel Attack Iran Before November?

Is Israel about to make a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities? If so, what will that mean to the Middle East region and to the world?

When Israel became a nation in 1948, Iran was the second Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation. As late as the Six-Day War of 1967, Iran supplied Israel with significant portions of its oil needs.

But all of that changed in 1979 when the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was overthrown. Once the Islamic Republic was established, all official relations with Israel were severed and an anti-Zionist stance has taken hold ever since. Iran’s leaders have only intensified their rhetoric and hatred of Israel since 1979.

Hate-filled rhetoric

Clifford D. May quoted a number of hate-filled Iranian statements against Israel in a recent USA Today editorial. For example, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel “a cancerous tumor” that will “soon be excised.” Ahmadinejad added: “The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists.”

Another example is that of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who says on his website that there is religious “justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and Iran must take the helm” (USA Today, Aug. 21, 2012).

These and many other continuing threats are being taken very seriously by Israel as Iran nears final development of a nuclear weapon and a missile delivery system.

Israel is counting the cost

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government will have to consider the great risk involved to Israel in an attack on Iran.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last fall, Amos Harel stated, “An Israeli attack will complicate relations with Egypt, whose transitional government is less hostile to Iran than Mubarak’s regime was, and will also jeopardize the peace with Jordan, whose territory Israeli planes might cross. In response an attack will draw Iranian missiles and massive rocket volleys by Hezbollah and Hamas, and Syrian President Bashar Assad also may choose to join the fray in an attempt to suppress his country’s popular uprising” (Nov. 4, 2011).

On the other hand, many in the Israeli government understand that time is running out. Their intelligence shows that Iran is very close to acquiring the capability to arm surface-to-surface missiles with a nuclear warhead.

Can Israel afford to wait until Iran can attack with nuclear warheads?

Can Israel afford to wait until Iran can attack with nuclear warheads?

Can Israel afford to wait until their enemy has such capability? From Israel’s perspective, they must weigh the risk of a major Middle East war against the likelihood of devastating loss of life.

Will an “unseen hand” save Israel again?

The modern state of Israel has experienced a 60-year history of miraculous survival. Every war Israel has fought could have gone against them—but it seems to many people that the proverbial “unseen hand” has been with them.

Roughly 2,500 years ago God gave an interesting prophecy concerning today’s modern Jewish state. “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

This does not mean the Jewish people will win every battle, since other passages predict end-time defeat and temporary captivity for the people of Judah (Zechariah 14:1-2). But in the end, attacking Judah and Jerusalem will have very bad consequences for the attackers.

What will God do this time in the face of Iranian threats to destroy Israel and the Jewish people?

First strike?

Israel may strike first before their enemies can strike them. They have in the past. When Egypt threatened Israel with a blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba in 1967, Israel struck first with a decisive blow. When threatened by Iraq’s nuclear program in 1981, Israel again took decisive action to destroy it before it could be fully developed.

The world is now watching to see if that will again be the case in the next few days, weeks or months with Iran. Because of the closing window of opportunity and because of the complicated relations with the United States, many analysts expect an Israeli strike before the U.S. elections in November.

Another prophecy found in Genesis 49:8 says of Judah, “Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies.”

This was given by Jacob about his sons in the “last days” (verse 1), meaning at the end of this age. Historically, it has only been since the second half of the 20th century that the Jewish people have been able to have their “hand on the neck of their enemies.”

Everlasting peace will finally come

We do not know how the present crisis will play out at this time, but Zechariah went on to say that “in that day His [the Messiah’s] feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” in Jerusalem and “the LORD shall be King over all the earth” (14:4, 9).

That is the wonderful outcome we all watch and wait for.

Read more in our section about the “Middle East” in Bible prophecy.

About the Author

Jim Haeffele

Jim Haeffele

Jim Haeffele is a church pastor in the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He currently pastors congregations in Fort Myers, Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida. He has served in the ministry of the Church of God for over 46 years. During those years he and his wife, Lois, have served congregations from Portland, Oregon, where he grew up, to Utah, Ohio, North Carolina, and now Florida.

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