Israel’s ambassador to Canada says his country faces critical decisions after a night of Iranian missile attacks—and urges Canada to list the IRGC as a terrorist group

Israel is at a crucial juncture after Iran fired more than 350 ballistic and cruise missiles at the Jewish state overnight on April 13, according to Israel’s ambassador to Canada.

“We are facing one of the most critical moments in the history of the State of Israel when a country like Iran starts an attack which is unprecedented in magnitude, in ferocity, which is completely illegal and against all international norms and rules and we have to defend ourselves the best way we can,” Iddo Moed said in an interview with The CJN on April 14.

The barrage of missiles marked the first time the Iranian regime has directly attacked Israel from Iranian territory, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The IDF reported that Israel, aided by the United States, the UK, France and Jordan, intercepted 99 percent of the missiles. A young girl in southern Israel who was seriously wounded by shrapnel was the only reported casualty.

In a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last night, Canada expressed its support for Israel. “These attacks demonstrate yet again the Iranian regime’s disregard for peace and stability in the region. We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks,” the statement said.

Pierre Poilievre, leader of Canada’s Opposition also issued a statement supporting Israel and its right to self-defence, as did the G7 nations.  

Israel appreciates Canada’s “very strong” statement, especially because it pointed to Iran’s “destabilizing role,” in the region, said Moed.

“I think that is exactly what is necessary at this point in time is that our international allies such as Canada focus on… what is going on in Iran and the threat that emanates from this regime.”

Relations between Canada and Israel have been somewhat strained since a non-binding motion passed in the House of Commons March 18 that called for Canada to cease allowing arms and military exports to Israel.

Israel is still seeking clarity on what exactly the ban entails. However, it is appropriate for the motion to be re-examined, he said.

“Since last night, we saw thousands and thousands of Canadians supporting a re-evaluation of whatever policy is being advised right now. It’s also very timely. Iran is using all its power, all the accumulated arms and technology for one clear aim, to destroy the State of Israel and we need international support,” he said.

“The issue of the arms has to be seen in the right context, which is what we pointed to all along, which is that Israel is defending itself against an evil war machine that on the seventh of October, pushed the Hamas proxy to attack Israel and to cause the most horrendous atrocity against the Jewish people since the Second World War.”

Iran also continues to aid Hezbollah which has “tens of thousands precision-guided missiles” aimed at Israel. The Lebanese-based terror group fired missiles last night as part of the attack on Israel, Moed said.

Although Western nations condemned the Iranian attack, the news was greeted with cheers and celebratory smoke flares at anti-Israel demonstrations that have occurred weekly across Canada since Oct. 7.

The protests are an internal, domestic affair for Canada to manage, Moed noted. “This hate culture being developed on the streets of Canada, the US, on Western Europe needs to be addressed. From Israel’s perspective, there are ways to do that. It is not only Holocaust education, but it is just pure hate mitigation and making people understand that the freedom of speech cannot go at the safety and security and well-being of others in society.”

The most important action Canada could take to support Israel, would be to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, Moed said. The United States listed it as a terrorist group in 2019.

“It’s vital that this action is taken today. It should not only be a political message to the Ayatollah regime in Iran, it is for the sake of security,” he said.

The IRGC “is part and parcel of the Iranian regime. It has tentacles around the world and it is operative and it is dangerous.”

The Israeli government and military met today and are deciding how to respond to the attack, but Moed said one thing is evident.

“We made it very clear—whoever hits us will be hit back. We have to make sure that those who rise to destroy the State of Israel will know that they will not be able to do that and that they should not try to do it again.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the attack and has urged restraint, fearing that the conflict could escalate into a regional war. Biden told Netanyahu to “think carefully and strategically” about retaliation a senior administration official told the New York Times.

Israel is aware of the concerns of a larger conflict, but at the same it is confronting a “very dangerous war machine,” Moed said.

“Israel tries to be very careful with escalating this conflict, but we have to remember, we are a small country. We cannot afford to lose a war.”

Israelis’ emotional, initial response would be to counter the Iranian attack with military force, said professor Renan Levine, who teaches about American foreign policy in the Middle East at the University of Toronto.

But that response may be countered by the fact that Israel, which had felt abandoned by its traditional allies after Oct. 7,  was aided by Western and regional allies during the missile bombardment.

The country, which was demoralized by the IDF’s slow response to the Oct. 7 attacks has also been reassured by the military’s success in protecting Israeli airspace from Iranian missiles.

“This morning there’s a sense of:  We’re back to where we used to be. The IDF defended us and elation because Israel had felt so isolated on the world stage and US, Britain and France and then Jordan take part in the defence of Israel… and that reduces the sense of threat,” Levine said.

Many Israelis also remember that the United States rewarded Israel’s restraint during the First Gulf War. Even when missiles were falling on Israeli cities, the country did not get involved and left the battle to the U.S., he said.

Political opinion polls show that while Israelis feel threatened by both Hamas and Hezbollah, there are also concerns that the army, which is already stretched thin fighting in Gaza cannot afford to be involved in another war, Levine said. There is also little confidence among both the right and the left that Netanyahu can guide the country through another conflict.

The attack also hurt Hamas, which had been expecting since Oct. 7 that Iran and its allies would open up new fronts and create more problems for the United States. But Iran has clearly sent a message that it has retaliated for an attack on a diplomatic facility in Damascus that killed two generals and that it does not intend further action, Levine said.

“Hamas today is more isolated as a result of this successful thwarting.

“That doesn’t mean that the situation won’t change in 24 hours, but if Hamas is sitting there wondering when Iran is going to come help them out, well, the drones and missiles have been fired and Hamas is not gaining any sort of strategic advantage as a result of that.”