Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip was a sort of "practice run" for a possible military confrontation with Iran, Israeli and American officials told The New York Times over the weekend.
The sources believe that beyond the publicly stated goals of the operation, it served as a good exercise in preparation for a potential military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and its likely consequences, particularly Iranian rocket attacks on Israel in response.
According to the officials quoted in The New York Times, Israel would face three "tiers" of threat in a confrontation with Iran: short-range missiles coming from terrorists in Gaza, such as those fired during the last operation, medium-range rockets launched by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and long-range missiles from Iran.
A U.S. Army air defense officer told The New York Times that the Israeli and American militaries were “absolutely learning a lot” from Operation Pillar of Defense and that this might contribute to a more effective “integration of all those tiered systems into a layered approach.”
The goal and the challenge, explains the report, is "to link short-, medium- and long-range missile defense radar systems and interceptors against the different types of threats that may emerge in the next conflict."
Operation Pillar of Defense ended last Wednesday night with a cease-fire agreement with Hamas, which has been enforced since then by both sides. During the eight days of fighting, more than 1,400 rockets were fired at Israel, killing four people. Palestinians reported that more than 140 people, terrorists and civilians, were killed in Israeli counter attacks on Gaza.