Iranian assault on Israel
Iranian assault on IsraelTomer Neuberg/Flash90

Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of the British military forces in Afghanistan, spoke to Israel National News - Arutz Sheva on Sunday about the Iranian assault on Israel in which the Jewish State was attacked with hundreds of UAVs and missiles overnight.

Saturday night's attack included 170 UAVs, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles. According to Col. Kemp, these weapons are deadlier than the majority of rockets that have been fired from Lebanon and Gaza by the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations.

"I witnessed many of the air defense intercepts over Jerusalem last night. The explosions they caused were far greater than any rockets I have seen intercepted from Gaza or Lebanon. There is no doubt that every projectile that hit its target would have caused immense destruction and potentially significant loss of human life," he noted.

This attack was noteworthy because it was the first time Iran has launched a direct attack on Israel in the 45 years since the Islamic Revolution. According to Col. Kemp, the Iranian government decided on a direct attack rather than use one or more of its proxies as in the past, because it "decided it needed to hit back directly against Israel following the 1st April airstrike on what it claims to be sovereign Iranian territory in Damascus."

He added that Iran "was encouraged to do so by widespread global condemnation of this strike including by the UN Secretary-General. Many suggested that Israel’s action was illegal, a war crime and an unprovoked attack. This is the opposite of the truth. Israel justifiably and legitimately targeted IRGC commanders who were responsible for directing and coordinating attacks against Israeli territory including from Lebanon and Syria. It was a lawful act of self-defense."

"Iran was also encouraged by the increasing isolation and severe criticism of Israel over the Gaza war by the international community including the US. Because of this Tehran believed its aggression against Israel would not meet global hostility and Israel would not be backed up by its international allies.

He warned that "constant US appeasement of Iran since the start of Biden’s presidency has also emboldened Iran which understood that the US Administration would seek to restrain Israel from serious counter-action, which has turned out to be accurate."

The IDF has stated that 99% of all projectiles launched by Iran last night were shot down, and not only by Israel. Col. Kemp noted that "the US, UK and France, as well as some Arab countries, played a major role in bolstering Israel’s air defenses in the face of such a massive bombardment. Not only did some allies down Iranian missiles but they also assisted by deploying sensors to help track the threat array."

"It is likely that more projectiles would have penetrated Israeli air defenses and hit their targets without this support," he said.

Col. Kemp stated that Iran was counting on more of its drones and missiles getting through Israel's defenses and striking their targets. "Iran expected many more of its missiles to get through to their targets. They were probably calculating on the penetration rates the Russians have achieved in Ukraine, which have been far higher. Had even 10% of projectiles got to their targets there could have been severe devastation in Israel which is what Iran wanted in its “severe punishment”.

"Do not make the mistake of thinking this was a symbolic attack designed to fail and send a message as some have suggested," he cautioned. "That would have been done with far fewer projectiles with less embarrassment to Iran if it failed which this one very clearly did."

When asked what Israel's response to the Iranian attack should be, Col. Kemp responded, "It is up to the Israeli war cabinet how it responds, with full knowledge of all the facts and hazards involved. We can be sure that Israel planned its response options in detail well in advance of this attack. However, in my view, the response against Iran should be devastating and disproportionate, not a like-for-like retaliation which can only encourage further rounds of tit-for-tat strikes and likely escalation. This is the opportunity for Israel to decisively deter Iran from any further such violence. That can only be achieved by heavy attacks against multiple high-value targets. Nor should we forget that Iran is on the cusp of gaining nuclear capability and this demonstration of direct aggression by Tehran should redouble in our minds the vital need to ensure that a future Iranian strike does not include nuclear warheads. In other words, this is an opportunity for Israel to destroy or at least significantly set back Iran’s nuclear program."

"Israel’s allies especially the US, UK and France, who all joined the IDF’s air defense efforts on Saturday night, should give whatever military support Israel needs to strike back at this dangerous regime which has caused so much violence and suffering across the region and will continue to do so until it is stopped," the colonel concluded.