While the Iraq tensions are not linked to Israel-Iran tensions, they form part of a larger regional paradigm in which many conflicts are connected. Senior Israeli defense officials view these interlinked conflicts as having serious ramifications. That means, for instance, Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, entrenchment in Syria, and support for Hezbollah, all impact Israel.
On February 16, the day before the Biden-Netanyahu call, Israel launched a surprise exercise called Vered Hagalil. The Israel Defense Forces prepared the Israeli Air Force to transition to a state of high alert. The entire air force, including dozens of aircraft, were involved. Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said that the exercise improved the air force’s readiness. Reports indicate the air force prepared in the simulation to strike up to 3,000 Hezbollah targets in a day. That would be more than the highest daily tally for the U.S.-led Coalition in the 1991 war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.