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Iran didn't attack Israel, it acted in self-defence

May 2, 2024 at 8:00 am

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and relatives of the victims attends the funeral ceremony held for victims who lost their lives in Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate building in the embassy compound in Damascus in Tehran, Iran on April 04, 2022 [Iranian Leader Press Office/Handout – Anadolu Agency]

On 1 April Israeli fighter jets bombed the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing seven people described by various media outlets as “members” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Among the dead was Brigadier-General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

As is usually the case, Israel never confirmed or denied that it carried out the attack but that does not change the fact that it was the perpetrator. The air strike was not the first on Syria by Israeli jets, but it was the first such bombardment that targeted a diplomatic building.

Iran responded to the attack 12 days later by launching a barrage of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones. Iran said it acted in self-defence since its consulate is part of its diplomatic mission in Syria. Tehran waited that long in the hope, among other logistical reasons, that the United Nations Security Council would, at least, condemn the attack on its diplomatic facility but that did not happen. Such a step would have softened Iran’s response, as Tehran would comment later.

Two days after the attack, a Russian drafted Security Council statement condemning the strike, without even naming Israel as the aggressor,  was vetoed by the United States paralysing the already paralysed Security Council.

Apparently, Russia wanted to defuse the situation between the two regional enemies: Iran and Israel. Yet it was the US that rejected that attempt despite being the leading voice lecturing the world on the dangers of escalations in an already burning region.

The US and other Western countries refused to acknowledge the fact that what Israel bombed was indeed an Iranian diplomatic building that is recognised as such. It also enjoys legal protection at all times by international customary law further codified into law by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and enhanced in the 1963 Convention on Consular Relations. Article 22 of the convention says that the “premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State, [Syria in this case], may not enter them,” without the “consent of the head of the mission.” The convention clearly says that the premises of a diplomatic mission should be protected “against any intrusion or damage.”

A good example here would be the case of the late Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The Turkish security agents waited for days for Saudi consent to enter the building as part of their investigation of the gruesome crime.

Yet most Western media outlets reported the Iranian response by projecting it as an attack on Israel without mentioning the simple fact that Iran was indeed acting in self-defence since its diplomatic mission is considered part of its national territory and any intrusion or attack on it is an attack on Iran itself. Diplomatic missions are granted immunity even against the host country’s (Syria in this case) own laws which do not apply inside diplomatic missions.

Western media in covering the Iranian response used phrases like “Iran launches unprecedented direct attack on Israel” and the entire report does not refer to the fact that Iran was not the aggressor but rather the victim of aggression. On top of all that hardly any major Western media mentions the fact that the Israeli attack on Iran’s Consulate violates several laws at once. First, it is illegal aggression on Syria itself, violation of its sovereignty and above all humiliating its status. Second, the attack contravenes international laws. Third, it violates the UN charter including self-defence which apartheid Israel usually uses to justify its aggression.

Above all, the Israeli attack even violates the laws of war which prohibit attacking diplomatic buildings because they are considered like schools, hospitals and residential buildings that have to be, not only spared from attack, but also protected. But this, apparently, does not apply to Israel whose army has been attacking hospitals, schools, residential blocks, refugee tents and even UN buildings in its genocidal war in Gaza for nearly seven months now.

Attacks on embassies even between warring countries are rare in the modern world. But Israel’s attack on the Iranian Consulate is not unprecedented. On the night of 7 May, 1999, the US destroyed China’s embassy in Belgrade with five bombs, while leading the military campaign to destroy former Yugoslavia. Back then the US Secretary of Defence, William Cohen, blamed the attack on “outdated maps” only to be revealed later that the US’s Central Intelligence Agency possessed updated maps indicating the precise location of the embassy. Five months after the attack, a joint journalistic investigation confirmed that the attack was actually deliberate and the “outdated maps” story was a “damn lie.”

The Western media also connected the Iranian self-defence response to the Israeli massacres in Gaza. But this is completely out of context. Indeed it happened during the genocide in Gaza but this is only an accidental concurrence and has nothing to do with the Israeli war on Gaza. Indeed Iran never denied its support for the Palestinian resistance but when it fired at Israel the Gaza genocide was neither a factor nor a cause for its response.

Israel has been waging a shadowy war for much of the last decade both inside and outside Iran. It has launched many destructive cyber attacks on Iranian infrastructure, murdered Iranian scientists who are allegedly connected to Tehran’s nuclear programme, and attacked the Iranian military presence in Syria. All such attacks were reasons for Iran to decide when and how to respond. Then came the attack on the consulate and Tehran, apparently, had had enough and wanted to send a clear message that it would respond.

It might have taken a long time for Tehran to send its missiles and drones directly into the occupation state but that does not mean it chose to do so as a result of the Gaza onslaught. In fact It acted at this particular time for its own reasons.

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