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Israel vows to ‘exact a price’ after unprecedented Iranian attack while world leaders call for restraint


Israel has vowed it will “exact a price” from Iran as the country considers its response to an unprecedented nighttime barrage of drone and missile strikes while facing international pressure for de-escalation.

The nighttime attack – which saw Tehran launch a series of strikes against Israel over a five-hour period – threatens to tip the crisis in the Middle East into unbridled regional war.

Israel’s war cabinet was authorized to respond to the attack and met on Sunday with one of its members, Benny Gantz, saying “the event is not over.”

He spoke of the need to “build a regional coalition and demand a price from Iran, in a way and at a time that suits us.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said earlier that Israel had “thwarted this attack in an unprecedented way” but added “we must be prepared for all scenarios.” In his first comments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We intercepted, we contained. Together we will win.

An Israeli official separately told CNN that Israel would respond to the Iranian attack, but that the scope of that attack has not yet been decided. The official said Israel had not yet decided whether to try to “break all the dishes” or do something more measured.

But Israel was urged by its Western allies to defuse an extremely tense situation on Sunday and close, at least for now, a weeks-long chapter of uncertainty and confrontation stemming from the war between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 33,000 people. Palestinians in Gaza and caused a humanitarian disaster in the enclave.

Iran’s retaliatory attack had been expected since a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month, and finally took place Saturday evening when more than 300 projectiles — including about 170 drones and more than 120 missiles ballistic missiles – were fired towards Israeli soil. Israeli authorities said “99%” were intercepted with the help of allies including the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The only injured person reported was a 7-year-old girl, seriously injured by a shrapnel.

The retaliation exposed years of clandestine conflict between the two countries and marked the first time the Islamic Republic launched a direct attack on Israel from its soil.

Israel and Iran have long been rivals, but tensions have escalated following Hamas attacks on Israel, which left around 1,200 people dead. Iran supports a network of proxies across the Middle East that have frequently clashed with Israel since the attacks.

On Sunday, Iran said a “new equation” in its divisive relations with Israel had been opened, and warned of a “much bigger” attack on the country if Netanyahu decides on a tit-for-tat attack. tack.

“We have decided to create a new equation, namely that if from now on the Zionist regime attacks our interests, our property, our personalities and our citizens, anywhere and at any time, we will retaliate against them,” declared the commander leader of the Islamic Revolution. » declared Hossein Salami of the Guards Corps (IRGC), on Iranian state television. The “Zionist regime” is a term that Iran uses to refer to Israel.

Sardar Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, had earlier said: “If the Zionist regime responds, our next operation will be much bigger. »

The Iranian attacks targeted the Israeli airbase from which it said the strike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus was launched. Iranian ballistic missiles that reached Israel fell on the air base in southern Israel and caused only minor structural damage, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said.

Bagheri said that from Iran’s point of view, the military operation against Israel “is over.” But he stressed that Iran’s armed forces remain on alert and are ready to “act if necessary”, according to an interview with official IRINN television on Sunday.

The warnings came as Western countries urged Israel to move back from the brink of open war with its enemy.

After the attack, US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with Netanyahu and made clear that the United States would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran, a senior administration official told CNN. the White House.

Biden told Netanyahu he should consider Saturday night’s events a “victory” because the Iranian attacks had been largely unsuccessful, and instead demonstrated Israel’s “remarkable ability to defend itself and defeat even attacks unprecedented “.

Israeli Ministry of Defense/Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (second from right) attends the Israeli war cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Biden, meanwhile, reiterated that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies remains “ironclad.”

Demonstrating some of the domestic pressure Netanyahu faces, two hardline government ministers called for a tough response. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for retaliation that “resonates throughout the Middle East,” while National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said Israel should “go crazy.”

Calls for restraint have also been made across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Iran’s major regional rival, stressed the importance of “preventing any further exacerbation” of the crisis, while Qatar, which has close economic ties with Iran, expressed its “deep worry “. The United Arab Emirates warned of “new levels of instability” if the episode was not brought to an end.

Iran vowed to retaliate after accusing Israel of bombing its diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month.

The airstrike destroyed the consulate building in the capital Damascus, killing at least seven officials, including Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and top commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, who had then said the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Zahedi, a former commander of the IRGC’s ground and air forces and deputy commander of its operations, was the highest-profile Iranian target killed since then-US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of IRGC General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2017. 2020.

This is a developing story and has been updated.

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