Israeli Strike on Iran Embassy in Syria

On April 2, 2024, Israeli Air Force jets targeted the Iranian Embassy in Syria, escalating tensions and sparking a worldwide debate on the sanctity of diplomatic immunity.

This article looks into the aftermath of the attack, the silence and condemnation from international players, and the potential repercussions on global diplomatic relations under the Vienna Convention of 1961.

World Response on Israel Bombing on Iran Consulate

Israel’s allies, including the US and Western countries, have remained notably silent on recent developments. The US has clarified to Iran that it had no involvement in the Israeli strikes, maintaining a distance from these events and emphasising that the decision and execution were solely Israel’s actions.

However, Israel’s bombing in Damascus, the capital of Syria, has incited fury in many countries. Islamic nations such as Iraq, Pakistan, Oman, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have all condemned the attack. Russia has also expressed outright support for Iran. Furthermore, not only Russia but China as well wishes to bring the matter to the United Nations Security Council. They aim to discuss the issue of how one country can target the embassy of another country within a third country, raising concerns about the implications for diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention of 1961.

International Agreement on Diplomatic Immunity

Adopted on April 18, 1961, and entered into force on April 24, 1964, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations remains one of the cornerstones of modern international law, with 192 states parties as of my last update in September 2021. It has significantly contributed to the stability of diplomatic interactions and remains a critical element in the conduct of foreign affairs across the globe.

Key provisions of the Vienna Convention include the immunity of embassy staff from the jurisdiction of the host country’s laws, the inviolability of diplomatic premises, and the secure and unhindered communication for diplomats. Essentially, it ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are not susceptible to any form of arrest or detention, allowing them to carry out their diplomatic missions effectively and without interference.

Why Did Israel Attack the Iranian Embassy in Syria?

The Israel attack has resulted in the killing of almost 13 people, including General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who is one of most senior members of Iran’s QUDS forces. Quds forces are Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps Elite commando force responsible for Espionage & Covert operations on foreign soil. Israel sees Quds forces as a threat due to its involvement with non-state actors like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza Patti & Houthi rebels in Yemen, etc.

All these non-state actors are a direct threat to Israel’s existence. After gathering reliable intelligence, Israel decided to conduct a pre-emptive strike on the Iran diplomatic premise in Syria. Israel previously had also attacked major infrastructure airports in Syria without respecting the sovereignty of the country. The biggest factor which motivates Israel to attack is due to the deployment of Iran’s Army Commanders & Generals in the Embassy.

New Delhi’s Response

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) expressed India’s concerns over the Israeli assault on Iranian diplomatic facilities in Syria, according to a statement released on April 4. “New Delhi is alarmed by the rising tensions in West Asia and the possible exacerbation of violence and instability,” the statement detailed. During his weekly media briefing, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal urged all involved parties to refrain from actions that violate the universally recognized standards and regulations of International Law.

Iran Vows to Respond to Israel

On Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader announced that “Israel will face consequences” for the assault that took place the day before, claiming the lives of members of the Revolutionary Guards, among them two generals, within the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus. This attack, coupled with the heightened rhetoric, has sparked worries that Israel’s conflict in Gaza could lead to a broader regional conflagration. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Syria that resulted in the death of high-ranking military officials.