Why Iran attacked Israel and what comes next


The wave of drones and missiles that flew toward Israel overnight on Sunday led to a new phase of tension, uncertainty and confrontation in the Middle East.

Iran launched the unprecedented attack in response to a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.

It marked a new chapter in a discord between the two states that has brewed for years and intensified since Israel declared war on Hamas last October.

The next steps remain unclear, but Israel faces calls from its allies to step back from the brink of open war and choose the path of de-escalation.

Here’s what you need to know.

More than 300 projectiles – including around 170 drones and more than 120 ballistic missiles – were fired at Israel in the massive overnight air attack. Around 350 rockets were fired from Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanese Hezbollah, according to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari.

However, “99 percent” of the projectiles were intercepted by the air defense systems of Israel and its allies, according to the Israeli military, and only a small number reached Israeli territory.

The attack on Tehran targeted the Nevatim air base, an Iranian military official said on Sunday, claiming that it was from there that the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate was launched in early April.

The Iranian ballistic missiles that reached Israel fell on the air base in the south of the country and caused only minor structural damage, Hagari said. The base is functioning and continuing operations after the attack, with planes continuing to use it, Hagari added.

A senior U.S. military official told reporters Sunday that the United States believes “there is no significant damage within Israel itself.”

U.S. ships in the eastern Mediterranean destroyed between four and six Iranian ballistic missiles in the attack and aircraft in the region shot down more than 70 Iranian one-way drones heading toward Israel. The U.S. Army’s Patriot missile battery shot down a ballistic missile near Erbil, Iraq, the official said.

Israel and Iran are long-time rivals and have been engaged in a shadow war for years.

Israel’s war against Hamas, waged since the militant group attacked Israel on October 7, has exacerbated these tensions.

Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria have launched attacks targeting US military positions in those countries and Iranian leaders have warned that their allies’ attacks will not stop until Israel’s war in Gaza ends .

But fears of a spiral of regional war grew further in early April, when Iran accused Israel of bombing its diplomatic complex in Syria.

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That 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 Commander-in-Chief 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.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel would be punished for the attack, while President Ebrahim Raisi said it “would not go unanswered”, state news agency IRNA reported . Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, backed by Iran, said the strike would bring “punishment and revenge.”

Since then, the region has been under tension, with the United States and Israel warning intelligence services of an imminent Iranian attack.

How did Israel and its allies respond to the Iranian attack?

Israel reacted angrily to the unprecedented strikes, while praising its military’s response.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the attack was “thwarted 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.

But Israel’s Western allies have urged the country to work to defuse the crisis, rather than reacting in a way that could tip the situation into open war.

US President Joe Biden spoke by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and made clear that the United States would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran, a senior US administration official told CNN. 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 “.

After a virtual meeting on Sunday, G7 leaders in a joint statement condemned the Iranian attack, which they said “risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation.”

“We demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take additional action now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives,” they said.

02:29 – Source: CNN

Listen to what Biden said to Netanyahu, White House official says

Decisions made by the Israeli War Cabinet will dictate immediate next steps.

One of the members, Benny Gantz, said Israel would “demand a price from Iran in a way and at a time that suits us.”

Hardliners in the Israeli government have called for tough action. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for a response that “resonates throughout the Middle East,” and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said Israel should “go crazy.”

An hour-long war cabinet meeting ended Sunday without a decision made on how Israel would respond, according to an Israeli official.

The war cabinet is determined to respond but has not yet decided on the timing and scope, the official said. One of the main dilemmas facing the cabinet is determining how quickly Israel should respond. The official said the Israeli military had been tasked with providing additional options for a response.

Israel has told the United States that it is “not seeking a significant escalation with Iran,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Sunday.

“They are seeking to protect and defend themselves,” the official said.

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 of the Islamic Force. said Hossein Salami of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Iranian state television. The “Zionist regime” is a term that Iran uses to refer to Israel.

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