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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged victory after a massive overnight airstrike by Iran marked a sharp escalation of the Middle East conflict, while a senior member of his war cabinet said the country would respond “in the fashion and time” of its choosing. choose.

“We intercepted, we repelled, together we will win,” Netanyahu wrote in an April 14 article on X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, centrist politician and retired general Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet and former defense minister, said that “we will build a regional coalition and demand the price from Iran in the manner and at a time that suits us.

Israel and its allies intercepted the “vast majority” of the hundreds of drones and missiles launched by Iran overnight.

Loud explosions and flashes of light could be seen in the skies above many areas of Israel in the early morning hours of April 14 as the country’s air defenses attempted to shoot down drones and missiles launched by Iran just hours after seizing a plane linked to Israel. ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

Israeli authorities reported only light damage to an Israeli military installation and said a 7-year-old girl was seriously injured when more than 200 drones and missiles, including more than 10 cruise missiles, were intercepted before the impact.

“The Iranian attack was foiled,” Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said early on April 14, adding that “99 percent” of the attacking vehicles had been intercepted. Hagari said the result was “a very significant strategic success.”

U.S., British and French officials confirmed that their armed forces participated in shooting down the projectiles, intercepting some over the Iraq-Syria border area as they headed toward Israel.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned Israel against “reckless behavior” following the strike, saying Tehran’s response to the retaliation would be “decisive and much stronger.”

The Iranian military earlier said its strikes had “achieved all their objectives” and were “completely carried out.”

Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mohammad Bagheri, speaking on state television, warned Israel not to retaliate, saying “Tehran’s response will be much more important than action military tonight.” He also said U.S. assets would be targeted if Washington aided Israel in its retaliation.

“Our operations are over and we have no intention of continuing them,” Bagheri said.

The United States had contacts with Iran through Swiss intermediaries before and after Tehran’s massive drone and missile attack on Israeli territory overnight, a senior Iran official said. Biden administration on April 14.

The official declined to provide details of the contact, saying only that Washington and Iran had had “a series of direct communications through the Swiss channel.”

Asked about the Iranian foreign minister’s comments that Tehran had given regional countries 72 hours’ notice before the attacks, the official said that was not true. “They didn’t give notice,” the official said.

Iran informed Turkey ahead of its planned operation against Israel, a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters on April 14, adding that Washington had conveyed to Iran via Ankara that its operation was to take place “within certain limits.”

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran’s regional allies were informed in advance of its air attacks on Israel.

“We naturally informed our friends in the regional countries 72 hours before the operation that Iran’s response in the form of self-defense is final and certain,” he said without specifying which regional allies .

Israel called on the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency session in New York on April 14 to discuss the attack, which Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan proposed. describe in an article about X as “a serious threat to world peace and security.”

On April 14, US President Joe Biden convened G7 allies to discuss the situation in the Middle East and coordinate a response, with the group reiterating its support for Israel.

Biden also spoke on the phone with Netanyahu, after which he said he reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment” to Israeli security, but said American forces would not participate in any action Tel Aviv offensive.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC television on April 14: “We don’t want to see the situation get worse… We’re not looking for a broader war with Iran.”

Other Western countries also condemned the attack, with France warning that Iran “risks a potential military escalation.” Britain called the attack “reckless”, while Germany called on Iran to “stop it immediately”.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen wrote on X that the attack was “blatant and unjustifiable”.

“I call on Iran and its proxies to immediately stop these attacks,” she added. “All actors must now refrain from any further escalation and work to restore stability in the region.”

EU foreign ministers will meet on April 16 to discuss escalating tensions in the Middle East following the strike, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

“Following the Iranian attacks on Israel, I have called an extraordinary meeting… of EU foreign ministers (on April 16),” Borrell wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Our goal is to contribute to de-escalation and security in the region.”

On April 14, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany to question what it called an “irresponsible stance” regarding Tehran’s strikes against Israel, reported the semi-official Iranian Labor news agency.

Tehran accused the three countries of “double standards” as they opposed a Russian-drafted UN Security Council statement earlier this month that would have condemned the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on all parties to exercise restraint. “We are counting on the states of the region to resolve existing problems through political and diplomatic means,” he added.

Turkey does not want a further escalation of tensions in the region after Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told his Iranian counterpart in a phone call on April 14 .

Pope Francis, speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, made a “sincere appeal to put an end to any action that could fuel a spiral of violence” that could lead to wider conflict.

Israel said on April 14 that it had reopened its airspace to commercial traffic and that airports had resumed operations.

The intelligence directorate of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on April 14 warned citizens against posting pro-Israel sentiments on social media, Iranian state media reported.

Israel and Iran have been bitter enemies for decades, but this is the first direct attack by one on the other’s soil, rather than using proxy forces or targeting Iran’s assets. the other in third countries.

“So far, we have intercepted the vast majority of incoming missiles,” Hagari said of the attack launched by the IRGC, which he called retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike that reportedly was carried out by Israel against the Iranian consulate in Damascus. , Syria.

The launch comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and strikes in Syria.

Iran called the attack on Israel, which Tehran called Operation Honest Response, a “response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus.”

However, Iran also appears to be taking a cautious approach to preventing strikes from widening conflict in the region, with its mission to the United Nations. saying that “the matter can be considered closed”.

The Iranian attack was immediately condemned by many governments around the world, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply alarmed by the very real danger of a devastating escalation on a massive scale.” of the region”.

Earlier on April 13, Iranian state media reported that IRGC forces had seized a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz, claiming the vessel was “linked to Israel.”

Following this event, Israel said he put his army on alert and canceled school activities for fear of a possible attack.

He accuses Iran of piracy and says Tehran will “bear the consequences” of escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The MSC Aries, a Portuguese-flagged ship believed to be operated by a shipping company partly owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, was seized on April 13 and was being transferred to Iranian territorial waters, according to the news agency official IRNA.

The ship’s operator, the Italian-Swiss MSC Group, said the ship had 25 crew members on board and was working closely with “the relevant authorities to ensure their well-being and the return of the ship safely”.

Israel’s war of retaliation in Gaza was triggered by a raid on Israeli territory carried out on October 7 by Hamas, which rules Gaza and is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. The raid left 1,200 dead and hundreds of people injured. were taken hostage.

The subsequent Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip aimed at destroying Hamas killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.

Since the start of the war, Tehran has openly supported militant groups and proxies targeting Israel that are part of Iran’s “axis of resistance” against Israel and the West, raising concerns about a broader conflict in Middle East involving sworn enemies Iran and Israel.

Security company Ambrey said on April 13 that Yemen’s Houthi rebels had also launched several drones into Israel in coordination with Iran.

In addition to strikes launched against Israel by Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Houthis have attacked Israeli territory as well as international and Israeli shipping in the Red Sea.

On April 14, Israeli forces struck a Hezbollah site in Lebanon, near the Syrian border, the Israeli army announced.

With reporting from RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, AP and Reuters


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