Israel says Iran attack ‘thwarted’


Iran’s unprecedented overnight attack on Israel has been “thwarted”, the Israeli army said on Sunday. Hundreds of missiles and drones were intercepted with the help of the US and allies.

The attack began late Saturday and is a huge escalation in the long-lasting secret war between the regional enemies. This comes against the backdrop of the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Iran’s proxies and allies also carried out coordinated attacks on Israeli positions as sirens blared in numerous locations and AFP correspondents heard explosions in the sky above Jerusalem early Sunday morning.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to act in retaliation against Israel for a deadly airstrike on April 1 on its consulate building in Damascus.

The Israeli military said late Saturday that Iran had “launched a massive swarm of more than 200 drones, ballistic missiles and sea-launched missiles”.

The military deployed dozens of fighter jets to intercept “all air threats” and worked with the US and other allies to stop the launches.

Residents in Jerusalem sought shelter and some residents collected water.

“You can see it’s empty. Everyone ran home,” said Eliyahu Barakat, a 49-year-old shopkeeper in Jerusalem’s Mamilla neighborhood.

The Israeli military said on Sunday morning that 99% of the launches had been intercepted.

“The Iran attack was foiled,” said S.Adm. Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the army, said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden emphasized Washington’s support for Israel after an urgent meeting with his top security officials about the crisis.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed a drone and missile attack was launched against Israel in retaliation for the Damascus attack that claimed the lives of seven members of the armed forces, two of them generals.

The Guard Corps said the ballistic missiles were fired almost an hour after the slow-moving drones.

Hundreds of Iranian citizens gathered in Tehran and waved Iranian and Palestinian flags in support of the military action against Israel.

Iran’s allies in the region also joined the attack. Yemen’s Tehran-backed Houthi rebels have also launched drones against Israel, according to security agency Ambrey.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement announced it had fired rockets at Israeli positions in the annexed Golan Heights.

International response

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned Iran’s “reckless actions” and said his government would continue to support Israel’s security.

France also reaffirmed its commitment to Israel. Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said “Iran has reached a new level of destabilization”.

Egypt, which often acts as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was “in direct contact with all sides of the conflict to “contain” the situation”.

Saudi Arabia warned parties to “protect the region and its people from the dangers of war”.

China described the attack as “the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict” and requested that a recent resolution by the UN Security Council demanding a ceasefire in the Palestinian territory be implemented. “More than six months of fighting must now end.”

The UN Security Council will meet at 2000 GMT on Sunday to discuss the latest crisis – at Israel’s request.

Biden said he would also contact his counterparts in the G7 group on Sunday to coordinate a “unified diplomatic response” in response to Iran’s “shameless attack”.

Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps seized an Israeli cargo ship in the Gulf. The entire region has been put on high alert.

Indian officials said there were 17 Indian nationals on board the Aries. The Philippine government said four of its nationals were also on board.

Hamas rejected Gaza ceasefire

Israel’s Mossad spy agency said on Sunday that the Palestinian militant group Hamas rejected the latest proposal by international mediators for a ceasefire in the war in Gaza.

“The rejection of the proposal proves that (Hamas head in Gaza Yahya) Sinwar does not want a humanitarian agreement or the return of hostages. Sinwar continues to exploit the tension with Iran and wants a general escalation in the region,” Mossad said in a statement released by the Israeli prime minister’s office.