Regardless of the damage Israel inflicts on Hamas, the movement’s leaders will portray their resilience as a victory. But it will take Hamas and Islamic Jihad some time to regroup and restock their long-range missiles inventory, making it almost impossible for them to engage in a second round of intense fire in the near future. Though this may seem like a short- or medium-term achievement for Israel, it does provide important breathing room for an imminent operation against Iran.
Beyond neutralizing Hamas, the current operation is helpful in other ways in preparing for an Iran attack. If Israel were to attack Iran, the likelihood of a direct Iranian or a combined Iranian-Hezbollah response against Israeli cities is high. The heavy exchange of fire with Gaza is an excellent opportunity for the Israeli authorities to examine the preparedness of its home front, emergency infrastructure, defensive military capabilities, and Hezbollah’s response. Immediately after the Thursday attack near Tel Aviv, many Israelis have begun preparing their shelters in case the fight escalates.