Airstrike on Iranian Diplomatic Establishment: Spread of Fighting in Middle East A Matter of Serious Concern

If Iran and Israel, both of which are major powers in the Middle East, were to clash, the flames of war could spread throughout the region. It is strongly hoped that the countries concerned will exercise restraint so as not to fall into a cycle of retaliation.

The consular section of the Iranian Embassy in Syria was hit by missiles, and more than 10 people were killed, including local commanders and members of Iran’s elite military organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

It is strongly believed that the attack was carried out by Israel, which is opposed to Iran. Although Israel has not admitted to any involvement, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stated that “the evil [Israeli] regime will be punished” and vowed retaliation against Israel.

However, tensions in the Middle East must not be allowed to escalate further.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which covers consulates, stipulates the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions. If Israel intentionally attacked the consular section, it would be a clear violation of international law.

The trigger for the escalation of tensions in the Middle East was the cross-border attack on Israel by the Islamist group Hamas in October last year.

While it is natural for Israel to exercise its right to self-defense, it has carried out indiscriminate attacks in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, calling them an operation to annihilate Hamas. Many civilians have died as a result. Israel’s military actions clearly go beyond the limits of self-defense.

It is also unacceptable that Israel is restricting the delivery of food and other supplies into Gaza, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The Israeli military also mistakenly bombed the convoy of a U.S. civilian organization that was conducting support activities for Gaza residents, killing seven members of the organization.

On the other hand, it is also true that Iran is complicating the conflicts in the Middle East.

Iran has openly stated its support for Hamas. It has provided weapons to Hezbollah, a Shiite Islamist militant group based in southern Lebanon, to fight Israel.

Yemen’s anti-government Houthi rebels, who have been attacking merchant ships in the Red Sea and elsewhere, are also likely receiving military support from Iran. Unless Tehran ceases its support to armed organizations, the crisis in the Middle East will only increase.

Late last month, the U.N. Security Council adopted its first resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the fighting in Gaza, which will soon reach the half-year mark.

The United States did not veto the resolution and abstained from voting on it. The international community’s growing criticism of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, which has supported Israel, may have made it impossible for Washington to defend Israel.

The resolution has legally binding power. Israel and Hamas should take the demands of the international community seriously.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 4, 2024)