Israel weighs response to unprecedented attack by Iran

News

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free

Israel’s war cabinet met on Sunday afternoon to discuss possible responses to a massive overnight Iranian drone and missile attack, with US President Joe Biden urging restraint as the Middle East edged closer to full-blown regional war.

Iran launched the attack, the first such strike from its own territory against the Jewish state, as retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike in Damascus earlier this month that killed several Iranian commanders.

An Israeli person familiar with government deliberations said that the decision facing the five-person war cabinet, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was whether to “go big” against Iran or to respond in a more measured way.

Discussions were ongoing with all of the country’s key partners, especially the US administration, but the decision would ultimately be Israel’s, the person added.

Biden had counselled Israel to take a measured approach. “The President has been clear. We don’t want to see this escalate,” said John Kirby, spokesperson for the US National Security Council, on NBC’s Meet the Press. “We’re not looking for a wider war with Iran.”

Israeli officials said Iran had fired more than 300 projectiles, including 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles at Israel beginning late on Saturday night and continuing over the course of several hours. Iran-backed militants in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen also fired rockets, drones and missiles at Israel.

Iranian lawmakers chanted slogans during an open session of the parliament in Tehran on Sunday © Icana News Agency/Zuma/eyevine

Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for Israel’s military, said 99 per cent of the barrage had been intercepted. A girl was critically injured by shrapnel in the south of the country and an air force base suffered minor damage, but there were no other reports of serious impacts, he said.

Hardliners demanded decisive action. “We need a crushing attack,” Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s ultranationalist national security minister wrote on X, while Bezalel Smotrich, finance minister, said that if Israel “hesitates” then “we will put ourselves and our children in existential danger.”

General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said by targeting the Iranian consulate in Damascus in an attack on April 1, Israel had “crossed a red line that was unbearable”.

“The mission is accomplished and the operation is over and we have no intentions of going further,” Bagheri said, but if Israel opted to “commit any act against us, be it on our territory or our compounds in Syria and elsewhere, the next operation will be larger”.

President Biden condemned the “unprecedented” assault and said he would convene other G7 leaders on Sunday “to co-ordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack”. 

Following a request from Israel, the UN Security Council also scheduled an emergency meeting for Sunday to discuss the attack.

Articles You May Like

Are the US and Chinese economies really about to start ‘decoupling’?
Business seeks clear victor in UK general election
Raisi’s death deals blow to Iranian regime
Sunak admits no Rwanda asylum flights will depart before election
Oklahoma City approves basketball arena development agreement