Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours on Monday
News International

Israel army chief pledges Iran response as Western countries urge restraint

Israel -Several allies warn against an escalation after Iran’s weekend attack on Israel increases fears of wider regional war.

The head of Israel’s military has said the country would respond to Iran’s weekend attack as several Western countries urged Israel to avoid an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours on Monday over Iran’s missile and drone attack.

Israel’s military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said his country would respond but did not provide 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 Airbase in southern Israel.

Iran’s attack launched in retaliation for an Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Damascus earlier this month has increased fears of open warfare between

Israel and Iran and heightened concerns that violence rooted in Israel’s war on Gaza is spreading further in the region.

“We’re on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it,” Josep Borrell,

the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“We have to step on the brakes and reverse gear.”
Israel army chief pledges Iran response
Israel weighs response to Iran attack amid global calls for restraint

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron made similar appeals, echoing calls for restraint by Washington and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” Guterres said late on Sunday.

“Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate.”

Russia has refrained from criticising its ally Iran in public over the strikes,

but expressed concern about the risk of escalation on Monday and also called for restraint.

Fears of regional escalation

Tehran’s retaliatory attack on Israel has heightened concerns that violence will spread further in the region.

Wary of the dangers, US President Joe Biden has told Netanyahu that Washington will not take part in any Israeli counteroffensive against Iran.

Since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza in October, clashes have erupted between Israel and Iran-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Israel says it is seeking to destroy the Palestinian group Hamas after it led an attack on Israel on October 7,

killing at least 1,139 people, mostly civilians, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on Israeli statistics,

and taking around 250 others captive.

More than 33,500 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza,

according to Palestinian authorities, and large parts of the territory have been reduced to rubble.

Aid agencies have warned that parts of Gaza are facing a looming famine amid severe Israeli restrictions on supplies of food and humanitarian aid.

Israel’s war cabinet is holding its fifth meeting in response to Iranian attack

Israel’s war cabinet is convening Tuesday to discuss its response to Iran’s drone and missile attack, an Israeli official told.

The meeting, which began at 12:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET), is the fifth set of talks held by the war cabinet since Sunday.

Tehran launched a series of strikes on Israel over the weekend, in response to a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.

The weekend’s unprecedented attack from Iran was the first time it has ever fired directly at Israel from its soil,

as regional tensions flare over Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Iran’s president warns of a severe and painful response if its “interests” are targeted

Israel weighs response to Iran attack, delays Gaza city offensive
ANKARA, TURKIYE – JANUARY 24: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (not seen) and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hold a joint press conference after the signing ceremony of ten agreements held following the 8th Meeting of the Turkiye-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council in Ankara, Turkiye on January 24, 2024. (Photo by Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu via Getty Images)

President Ebrahim Raisi has warned that the “smallest action against Iran’s interests” will be met with a “severe, extensive and painful” response.

In a call with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Monday, the president said that Iran’s attack on

Israel this weekend was an act of “legitimate defense.”

“As we have already officially announced the operation of the ‘Honest Promise’ was successfully carried out with

the aim of punishing the aggressor. Now we firmly declare that the smallest action against Iran’s interests will definitely be met with a severe,

extensive and painful response against all its perpetrators,” Raisi said.

“Honest Promise” was the name given to Iran’s unprecedented attack,

which saw drones and missiles launched at Israel over a five-hour period almost entirely intercepted by the Israeli military and its allies.

Israel has vowed to respond and is weighing its options to do so.

In the call, Qatar “stressed the need to reduce all forms of escalation and avoid expanding the conflict in the region,”

according to a statement run by state news agency Sheikh Tamim.

Israel faces dilemma in response to Iran’s attack

 Israel weighs response to Iran attack, delays Gaza city offensive
U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’a Al-Sudani at the Pentagon in Arlington,VA, U.S., April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Israel has yet to agree on how to respond to the Iranian attack that saw more than 300 projectiles fired at its territory in the first direct military confrontation between the Islamic Republic and the Jewish state.

Israel must balance international pressure to show restraint on the one hand while searching for an appropriate response to an unprecedented attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has to weigh his right-wing coalition’s call for a strong reaction against the risk of further international isolation for Israel by widening the war without international support.

Despite pressure from allies not to escalate, Israel’s war cabinet is now debating the timing and scope of the response,

two Israeli officials familiar with the deliberations told.

Analysts say that Israel has few options, and each of those options comes with a price,

especially as it is already embroiled in a brutal six-month war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and is confronting various

Iran-backed militants in the region.

A direct attack on Iran would set yet another precedent.

While Israel is believed to have conducted covert operations in Iran over the years,

often targeting individuals or facilities seen as a threat to its security,

it has never launched a direct military assault on Iranian territory.

“We are definitely in a new phase, and a very dangerous phase of the Israeli-Iranian confrontation,” said Raz Zimmt,

an Iran expert at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.

“Iran has certainly tried to change the rules of the game with Israel… We might expect more rounds of direct attacks in the future.”

US Defence Secretary and Israeli counterpart discuss aftermath of Iran attack

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin spoke to his Israeli counterpart Monday and “reaffirmed the strategic goal of regional stability,” according to a readout of the call.

Austin and Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant discussed the aftermath of Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel over the weekend, the readout said.

The secretary also reiterated “steadfast” US support for Israel’s defence.

Some context: Israel’s war cabinet is weighing a response to Iran’s attack, which saw more than 300 projectiles fired at its territory most of which were intercepted.

Austin previously asked Gallant to notify the US ahead of any potential response to the Iranian attack, according to a US official.

The two had spoken hours after Iran had launched a barrage of drones and missiles at Israel.

Iran-Israel Conflict, Iran-Israel War: In Iran-Israel War, UN Worried About Strikes On Nuclear Sites
An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel April 14, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen


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