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In breaking their fragile truce, Israel and Iran have opened a Pandora’s box | Simon Tisdall

Skirmishes between the pair have until now been muted, but last week’s tit-for-tat attack on Isfahan shows how the Gaza conflict is fuelling global tensions

Israel’s retaliation, when it came, was surprisingly limited. Iran minimised the significance of Friday’s air attacks on a military base near Isfahan and other targets, denying they were externally directed. Usually voluble Israeli spokesmen fell strangely silent. It was as if a tacit bilateral agreement had been made to play down the affair – to quietly de-escalate.

Like surreptitious 19th-century duellists illicitly pointing pistols at each other across a misty English meadow at dawn, both countries required that honour be satisfied – but wanted to avoid another noisy public row. Each has fired directly at the other, causing symbolic damage. Now they and their seconds are signalling it’s over – at least for the time being.

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