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Israeli military vows response to Iran attack

Israelis are awaiting word on how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will respond to Iran’s first-ever direct attack on their country as international pressure for restraint grew amid fears of an escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

Mr Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24-hours to weigh a response to Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack, a government source said.

Israel’s military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said the country would respond. He provided no details.

“This launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response,” he said at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel, which sustained some damage in Saturday night’s attack.

Israel remained on high alert, but authorities lifted some emergency measures that had included a ban on some school activities and limits on large gatherings.

Iran’s attack on Israel involved more than 300 missiles and drones

The prospect of Israeli retaliation has alarmed many Iranians already enduring economic pain and tighter social and political controls since protests in 2022 and 2023.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for what it says was an 1 April Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus, and signalled that it does not seek further escalation.

While the attack caused no deaths and limited damage, it has increased fears of open warfare between the long-time foes and fuelled concerns that violence rooted in the Gaza war is spreading.

The US President Joe Biden told his Israeli counterpart at the weekend that the United States, which helped Israel blunt the Iranian attack, will not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.


Read more about the conflict in the Middle East


Since the war in Gaza began in October, clashes have erupted between Israel and Iran-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Israel said four of its soldiers were wounded hundreds of metres inside Lebanese territory overnight.

It appeared to be the first such known incident since the Gaza war erupted, although there have been months of exchange of fire between Israel and Lebanon’s armed group Hezbollah.

“We’re on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. “We have to step on the brakes and reverse gear.”

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for what it says was an Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron made similar appeals.

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby declined to say if Mr Biden urged

Mr Netanyahu in talks on Saturday night to exercise restraint in responding to Iran.

“We don’t want to see a war with Iran. We don’t want to see a regional conflict,” Mr Kirby told a briefing, adding that it was for Israel to decide “whether and how they’ll respond.”

Russia has refrained from publicly criticising its ally Iran but has also urged restraint.

“Further escalation is in no one’s interests,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Iran mounted its attack after the 1 April killing in Damascus of seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers,including two senior commanders.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the strike.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said G7 leaders were working on a package of measures against Iran

Iran’s retaliatory attack, involving more than 300 missiles and drones, caused modest damage in Israel and wounded a 7-year-old girl. Most were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome Defence system and with help from the US, Britain, France and Jordan.

In Gaza itself, where more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive according to Gaza health ministry figures, Iran’s action drew applause.

Israel began its campaign against Hamas after the Palestinian militant group attacked Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages by Israeli tallies.

G7 mulls Iran sanctions

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the group of seven major democracies were working on a package of coordinated measures against Iran.

“I spoke to my fellow G7 leaders, we are united in our condemnation of this attack,” Mr Sunak said in parliament.

Italy, which holds the rotating G7 presidency, said it was open to new sanctions and suggested any new measures would target individuals.

In an interview, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said all G7 members would have to back new sanctions.

Demonstrators carried Iranian and Palestinian flags in Tehran

“If we need to have more sanctions for people clearly engaged against Israel, supporting for example terrorism, supporting Hamas, it is possible to do it,” Mr Tajani said.

Iran’s attack has disrupted travel, with at least a dozen airlines cancelling or rerouting flights, and Europe’s aviation regulator reaffirming advice that airlines use caution in Israeli and Iranian airspace.

Iraqi Airways announced a resumption of flights between Iraq and Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the Iranian government had informed the United States that the attack on Israel would be limited and for self-defence, and that regional neighbours were informed 72 hours in advance.

Mr Kirby said that Iran did not give advance warning to the United States of the attack’s timeframe or targets, calling reports that Tehran had done so “categorically false.”


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