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Israel Fends Off Iran’s Missile and Drone Attack (video)

 Nearly all of the aerial projectiles were shot down before reaching Israel. It was the first time Iran had directly attacked Israel from Iranian territory.(WSJ)
Watch video: Nearly all of the aerial projectiles were shot down before reaching Israel. It was the first time Iran had directly attacked Israel from Iranian territory.(WSJ)

The New York Times

EnergiesNet.com 14 04 2024

Israel said it thwarted a broad aerial attack from Iran overnight.

The volley of over 300 cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones launched toward Israel on Saturday night was a response to a suspected Israeli attack on an Iranian diplomatic complex in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.

This is the first time Iran has directly attacked Israel from Iranian territory, and the strikes set up a direct military confrontation between the two countries.

What happened: Dozens of drones and most missiles fired by Iran were shot down by Israeli, American and other allied forces before reaching Israeli territory, Israeli and U.S. officials said. Air-raid sirens blared across Israel and explosions were heard over Jerusalem as Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system kicked in.

Aftermath of the strikes: A small number of missiles landed in Israel, causing light damage to a military base in Israel’s south, Israel said. A former senior U.S. official said the attacks appeared to be largely “performative.” A hospital in southern Israel said it was treating 12 people after the attacks. In a sign that Israel believes the brunt of the attack is over, its command for the home front lifted sheltering orders before its airspace reopened early Sunday.

Response: President Biden condemned Iran’s attacks and pressed for a diplomatic response in a bid to head off further military escalation. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said a retaliatory attack against Iran is possible. The U.S. military in recent days had rapidly repositioned its resources in the region in anticipation of an Iranian attack.

Latest Updates

Israel’s Air-Defense System Stands Up to Latest Test

By Alistair MacDonald

The remains of a rocket booster near Arad, Israel.
The remains of a rocket booster near Arad, Israel. (Christophe van der Perre/Reuters)

TEL AVIV – Israel’s successful defense against Iranian drones and missiles underscores that it has one of the world’s most sophisticated air-defense systems. The country operates a multilayered system, much of which it developed alongside the U.S. However, if Israel were to come under sustained attack, the country could start to run out of the missiles is uses to defend itself, said Fabian Rene Hoffmann, a doctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo, who specializes in missile technology.

Israel has been developing a new system called the Iron Beam, which uses a laser to shoot down projectiles. For some attacks, so-called directed-energy weapons could help address concerns about running out of ammunition. It isn’t clear if Iron Beam has been deployed in the conflict. The country’s air-defense systems have become an increasingly successful and lucrative export industry, with Germany and Finland recently placing large orders.

Hamas Rejects Deal to Free Hostages, Israel Says

By Anat Peled

TEL AVIV – Hamas has rejected an outline tabled by mediators for a deal to free dozens of hostages who remain in Gaza, the Israeli prime minister’s office said.

The prime minister’s office called Hamas’s rejection proof that “[Hamas’s leader in Gaza Yahya] Sinwar does not want a humanitarian deal and the return of the hostages, is continuing to exploit the tension with Iran, and is striving to unite the sectors and achieve a general escalation in the region.”

Israel War Cabinet to Meet Today

By Carrie Keller-Lynn

TEL AVIV – Israel’s war cabinet is slated to meet this afternoon, an Israeli official said.

Israel promised to respond to an Iranian attack on its soil ahead of Iran’s Saturday overnight assault, and Israel’s foreign minister says Israel is weighing response options.

Biden Presses for Diplomatic Response to Iran’s Attack on Israel

By Rory Jones and Anat Peled


Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles toward Israel overnight on Saturday and early Sunday morning. Here’s how the conflict between the two rival nations unfolded in recent weeks. Photo Composition: Kaitlyn Wang

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said last week his country would attack Iran should Tehran launch an assault on Israeli territory. “That assertion remains valid,” Katz told the Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday. 

Iran appeared to want to overwhelm Israel’s defenses and destroy infrastructure at the major air base, Nevatim, where the Israeli military houses its fleet of F-35 fighter planes, said Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence and air force fighter pilot. The base suffered only minor damage, Israel’s military said.

In recent years when Israel has faced rocket or missile barrages from Iranian proxies such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Israeli military has responded quickly and forcefully. Given the risks of sparking a broader Middle East conflict, it is likely to coordinate with the U.S. over the best response. But Israel does have competing priorities, Yadlin said.

“The idea of trying to de-escalate the war in the Middle East is no doubt in the U.S. interest, and no doubt also in Israel’s,” Yadlin said. “However, the deterrence of Iran and the punishment of Iran for Israel is more important.”

A Marine stood guard at the White House on Saturday after President Biden returned to Washington to discuss the Iran-Israel conflict. Photo: shawn thew/Shutterstock
A Marine stood guard at the White House on Saturday after President Biden returned to Washington to discuss the Iran-Israel conflict. Photo: shawn thew/Shutterstock

Iran in a letter to the United Nations said its attack was in self-defense after airstrikes it attributed to Israel killed Iranian military personnel in what Iran said was a diplomatic facility in Syria earlier this month. Israel hasn’t commented on the attack in Syria.  

Iran on Sunday said it plans no more action against Israel, but its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has said it would retaliate against the U.S. or any country in the region that helps Israel hit back against Tehran. Iran’s missile capabilities remain potent: U.S. officials estimate it has over 3,000 homegrown missiles.

Biden spoke overnight to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel,” the White House said, adding the U.S. leader would coordinate “a united diplomatic response” with G-7 nations.

The U.S. military had repositioned aircraft and missile-defense resources to the region ahead of Saturday’s attacks and said it intercepted dozens of missiles and drones en route to Israel from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Israel has a multilayered aerial defense system designed with the U.S. to manage attacks from a range of distances. Its most well-known system, Iron Dome, intercepts shorter-range rockets and missiles. But the military in recent years also has developed technology to contain drones and longer-range ballistic missiles that leave the earth’s atmosphere. 

Israel used antimissile systems and jet fighters to down roughly 170 drones and more than 30 cruise missiles before they entered Israel, the Israeli military said. A few ballistic missiles out of roughly 120 fired by Iran entered Israeli territory, it said.

All told, Israel said its military and allies intercepted 99% of Iran’s drones and missiles, but the country remains on alert. 

“We intercepted. We blocked. Together we will win,” Netanyahu posted on X on Sunday morning.

Demonstrators wave Iranian and Palestinian flags in Tehran after the attack on Israel. Photo: atta kenare/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Demonstrators wave Iranian and Palestinian flags in Tehran after the attack on Israel. Photo: atta kenare/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Israel and Iran for decades have largely fought indirectly via Tehran-backed proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, but the direct aerial assault signals a new phase.

The U.S. could pressure Israel not to respond, given the limited casualties and damage from the attacks, said Mohanad Hage Ali, deputy director at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

Despite tit-for-tat skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah since the start of the war in Gaza, Iran and Hezbollah have signaled an unwillingness to expand the conflict beyond the Palestinian territory, Hage Ali said. 

There were signals for days that the Iranian aerial assault was coming, which was “more theatrical” than a surprise attack designed to cause destruction and casualties, Hage Ali said. 

For Iran, Hezbollah and the U.S., “it’s quite clear at this stage that none of these actors want to escalate into a regional conflict,” he said, so the fallout could be contained.

As the attack got under way, air-raid sirens began sounding across Israel in the early hours of Sunday morning, including in Jerusalem and the south of the country. Sirens were also activated in the West Bank. 

A young child was seriously wounded by shrapnel, the Israeli military said, and health authorities said others were lightly injured either from shrapnel or running to air-raid shelters. 

Israel said it reopened its airspace at 7:30 a.m. local time Sunday, suggesting that no further major aerial threats were expected in the near term. Israelis also ventured out in Jerusalem after the country lifted sheltering orders.

Write to Rory Jones at Rory.Jones@wsj.com

nytimes.com 04 14 2024

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