Israel Pledges Response To Iran Strikes As Allies Push Restraint

Israel’s armed forces head has promised to retaliate to Iran’s unprecedented strike on the country, despite calls for moderation from foreign leaders concerned about a larger regional confrontation.

During the six-month battle between Israel and Iran-backed militant group Hamas in Gaza, Iran’s proxies around the region have increased attacks on Israel and its allies, claiming to be operating in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

Tensions were already high before Iran conducted its first attack on Israeli territory, firing hundreds of missiles and drones in response to a deadly April 1 raid on the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

“This launch of so many (Iranian) missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response,” Israeli armed forces chief Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi said Monday while addressing troops at the Nevatim airbase, which was hit by Iran’s Saturday night barrage.

The Israeli army claims that the vast bulk of the weapons were shot down, with the assistance of the United States and other allies, and that the strike caused relatively little damage.

Western governments, including those that supported Israel’s defense, have warned against escalation, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened with his military cabinet late Monday to deliberate next moves, according to Israeli media.

Iran has previously stated that it will consider the subject “concluded” unless Israel retaliates, and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian assured his Chinese counterpart in a phone call on Tuesday that Iran was “willing to exercise restraint” and has no intention of worsening tensions.

Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, stated that it was “believed that Iran can handle the situation well and spare the region further turmoil”.

The US has regularly urged China, Iran’s key partner and a major consumer of US-sanctioned oil, to use its influence over Tehran to help manage Middle Eastern tensions.

No more ‘strategic patience’

Israel delivered its first formal statement on Monday regarding the strike on the Iranian embassy in Syria, which sparked Tehran’s weekend attack.

“These were people who engaged in terrorism against the State of Israel,” stated Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari. “There was not a single diplomat there as far as I know.”

The strike killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards, two of them were generals.

Iran has described its retaliatory missile and drone barrage as the first step of a tough new strategy.

Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, wrote on X that the “era of strategic patience is over” and that any future targeting of Iranian troops and assets “will be met with a direct and punishing response”.

The chief of the UN’s nuclear watchdog announced on Monday that Iran has temporarily halted its nuclear facilities for “security reasons” after conducting its retaliation attack.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, the facilities are anticipated to reopen on Monday, but his inspectors will not return until Tuesday, or when “we see that the situation is completely calm”.

According to a senior US official, US President Joe Biden informed Netanyahu that the US would not provide military assistance for any response against Iran.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and French President Emmanuel Macron were among those who urged moderation.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Washington does not “seek escalation, but we will continue to support the defense of Israel.”

US House Speaker Mike Johnson has stated that a vote on a new package of military funding for Israel might take place as early as Friday. Right-wing members of Johnson’s Republican party have stalled the package in the House, opposing extra military financing for Ukraine, which is also included in the measure.

Ceasefire calls

Following the weekend’s strikes, Israel’s military stated that it will not be distracted from its continuing fight with Hamas in Gaza.

It stated that forces were still operating in central Gaza and that tanks had killed “a number of terrorists identified as advancing towards them”.

According to the army, fighter jets struck “terror tunnels and military compounds where armed Hamas terrorists were located”.

According to Israeli authorities, the October 7 Hamas attack that launched the Gaza war killed 1,170 persons in Israel, the majority of whom were civilians.

According to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,797 individuals, the majority of them are women and children.

Israel says that 129 hostages abducted during the October 7 attack, including 34 presumed dead, are still in Gaza.

During a White House meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, Biden stated, “We’re committed to a ceasefire that will bring the hostages home and prevent the conflict from spreading beyond what it already has.”

Pro-Palestinian activists stopped San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on Monday, reflecting both home pressure on Biden and international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Israel’s offensive against Hamas has resulted in a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with severe shortages of food, medication, and water.

On Sunday, the United Nations sent a four-day supply of fuel to a bakery in northern Gaza, allowing it to resume operations in an area that “has recorded the highest levels of catastrophic hunger in the world”.

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