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U.S. issues travel warning for Israel with Iran attack believed to be imminent and fear Gaza war could spread

Tel Aviv — Israel is preparing for a worst-case scenario that U.S. officials say could materialize in just a few hours — the possibility of a direct attack on Israeli soil by Iran in retaliation for a strike nearly two weeks ago that killed seven Iranian military officers. Iran has vowed revenge for Israel’s killing of its commanders, hit by an April 1 strike on the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital.

Two U.S. officials told CBS News that a major Iranian attack on Israel was expected as early as Friday, possibly including more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles aimed at military targets inside the country.

Officials said it would be difficult for the Israelis to defend against such a large-scale attack, and while they suggested the Iranians might opt ​​for a smaller-scale attack to avoid a dramatic escalation, their reprisals would have been imminent.

White House warns Iran of retaliation against Israel

Tehran has not publicly indicated how or when it will retaliate – so it is unclear how far Iranian leaders will go. If they decide to carry out a direct attack on Israel, there are fears that it could cause Israel’s situation to explode. ongoing war against Hamas, Iranian ally in a much larger regional conflict.

With Iranian retaliation expected at any time, the US State Department on Thursday warned Americans in Israel not to travel outside major cities, which are better protected from rocket fire by the Iron Dome missile defense system from the country. The latest guidance notes that travel of U.S. government employees to Israel could be further restricted without notice as the situation evolves in the Powder Magazine region.

“Whoever harms us, we will harm them,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Thursday during his visit to troops at an Israeli army airbase. “We are prepared…both defensively and offensively.”

Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) burn Israeli and American flags during the funeral of members of the elite IRGC Quds Force killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria, in Tehran, Iran, April 2024.

Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/Getty

Sima Shine, a security expert and former head of Israel’s national intelligence agency Mossad, told CBS News that this is a dangerous moment for the region and that she is “most concerned” that she ever was. She added that concern about all-out war was probably equally strong “on both sides, in Israel and Iran.”

If Iran chooses to strike Israel directly, it could involve a complex missile and drone attack similar to that of Iranian forces. launched against a Saudi oil facility in 2019.

“They will try to do it on the military or some military assets,” Shine predicted. “But the question will be about the damage. If there were a lot of casualties, deaths or injuries…I think that could lead to a huge escalation.”

Iranians stand in front of an anti-US and anti-Israel banner during a rally commemorating International Quds Day, also known as Jerusalem Day, during the funeral of members of the IRGC Quds Force killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria, in Tehran. , Iran, April 5, 2024.

Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/Getty

Shine stressed, however, that she still believes neither side really wants a regional conflict.

The United States is ‘really trying to avoid war’

The United States sent a top general to Israel this week to coordinate with its close ally any response it might make to an Iranian attack and, speaking Friday on “CBS Mornings,” the top U.S. military officer said: “We are really trying to avoid war. »

“This is part of the dialogue I have with my counterparts in the region, including the Israeli defense chief, with whom I spoke yesterday,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown said. Jr., adding that the U.S. military was “doing things not only to prevent a war, but at the same time, one of my main jobs was to make sure that all the forces in the region were protected” .

“My role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs is to plan and prepare,” Brown said. “It’s something we do very well.”

The dilemma for Iran, said Israeli expert Shine, is how to deliver the promised response to the Israeli attack in Syria, but in a way that does not lead to further escalation. Likewise, Shine said Israel could choose to exercise restraint when reacting to what Iran eventually does.

If either side strikes the wrong balance, the consequences for the region, and even the world, could be disastrous.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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