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The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Apr 13, 2024, 2:38 PM | Updated: Apr 15, 2024, 2:50 pm

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

 

Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday. The Israeli military says Iran fired more than 100 bomb-carrying drones toward Israel. Hours later, Iran announced it had also launch much more destructive ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

Iran had been threatening to attack Israel after an airstrike earlier this week widely blamed on Israel destroyed Iran’s consulate in Syria, killing 12 people, including two elite Iranian generals.

The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement early Sunday the “vast majority” of missiles launched from Iran were intercepted outside of Israel’s borders. Israel has made missile defense a priority, with a variety of air-defense systems available to shoot down incoming missile and drone fire.

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s six-month war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The war erupted after Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two militant groups backed by Iran, carried out a devastating cross-border attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others.

An Israeli offensive in Gaza has caused widespread devastation and killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Currently:

— President Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

— Israel has a multilayered air-defense system. It faces a big test with Iranian drone strike.

Here is the latest:

BIDEN SAYS U.S. HELPED ISRAEL DOWN ‘NEARLY ALL’ IRANIAN DRONES AND MISSILES

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says U.S. forces helped Israel down “nearly all” of the drones and missiles launched by Iran and pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response.

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke early Sunday, Israeli time, their governments said. Biden said in a statement that he reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security — a departure from his harsh criticism over Israel’s handling of the war in Gaza.

“At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” Biden said in the statement. “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.”

The Iranian attack, less than two weeks after a suspected Israeli strike in Syria that killed two Iranian generals in an Iranian consular building, marked the first time it has launched a direct military assault on Israel

ISRAEL SAYS MOST MISSILES LAUNCHED FROM IRAN WERE INTERCEPTED

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military says the “vast majority” of missiles launched from Iran were intercepted outside of Israel’s borders.

The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement early Sunday that dozens of surface-to-surface missile launches from Iran were identified approaching Israeli territory and that “the IDF Aerial Defense Array successfully intercepted the majority of the launches using the ‘Arrow’ Aerial Defense System, together with Israel’s strategic allies, before the launches crossed into Israeli territory.”

“A small number of hits were identified, including at an IDF base in southern Israel, where minor damage was caused to infrastructure,” the statement added.

It said “many dozens of hostile aircraft, as well as dozens of cruise missiles, from Iran were identified approaching Israeli territory and intercepted.”

Dozens of Israeli Air Force fighter jets are currently operating to intercept aerial threats approaching Israeli territory, it added.

UN CHIEF CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for an immediate halt to hostilities in the Middle East.

“I strongly condemn the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran this evening,” Guterres wrote in a statement Saturday night.

“I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation. I urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East,” Guterres wrote. “I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war.”

GERMANY, FRANCE, CANADA CONDEMN IRANIAN ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAEL

The French government forcefully condemned the Iranian air attack on Israel.

French foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné said in a statement Saturday that in “taking such an unprecedented action, Iran has crossed a new threshold with regard to its destabilizing activities and is risking a potential military escalation.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote early Sunday on X that Germany condemns “in the strongest possible terms the ongoing attack, which could plunge an entire region into chaos.

“Iran and its proxies must stop it immediately,” Baerbock wrote. “We offer Israel our full solidarity at this time.”

Likewise, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his nation “unequivocally condemns Iran’s airborne attacks against Israel.”

“We stand with Israel. After supporting Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack, the Iranian regime’s latest actions will further destabilize the region and make lasting peace more difficult,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

BRITAIN AND ARGENTINA RESPOND TO IRANIAN ATTACK ON ISRAEL

U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said additional Royal Air Force jets and air refueling tankers have been sent to the Middle East to bolster Britain’s existing operation against the Islamic State Group in Iraq and Syria.

He said the jets “will intercept airborne attacks within range of our existing missions,” but did not confirm whether RAF jets had already shot down any Iranian drones.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of Argentine President Javier Milei says the leader will cancel a trip to Denmark and return to Buenos Aires due to Iran’s attack on Israel.

A statement from presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni said Milei was flying home to form a “crisis committee in light of the latest events in Israel, to take charge of the situation and coordinate actions with the presidents of the Western world.”

US FORCES DOWN ATTACK DRONES HEADED TO ISRAEL

U.S. officials say American military forces have downed some Iran-launched attack drones flying toward Israel.

That is according to a U.S. defense official and two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. The defense official said the effort to intercept the attack was continuing.

Since Iran announced its attack Saturday against Israel, air raid sirens have gone off in Jerusalem, in northern and southern Israel, in the Negev region, in the Shomron area and in the Dead Sea region.

— Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Mike Balsamo in New York contributed.

ISRAEL ORDERS RESIDENTS IN SOME AREAS TO MOVE CLOSE TO PROTECTED SPACES

The Israeli army has ordered residents of the Golan Heights in the north and Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat in the south to stay close to a protected space — such as a shelter, stairwell or inner room — until further notice.

Residents must be able to reach the protected spaces as soon as air raid sirens are activated, the statement said.

“We ask the public to follow the instructions of the Home Front Command regarding the situation and wait for additional instructions,” the statement said.

IRAN SAYS IT HAS FIRED BALLISTIC MISSILES AT ISRAEL

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency says Tehran has fired ballistic missiles at targets inside of Israel. The announcement came shortly after Iran said it fired dozens of bomb-carrying drones.

Slow-moving Shahed-136 drones have been seen in the skies over Iran. However, those are more easily shot down.

Israel has missile defense systems capable of targeting ballistic missiles. However, in a massive attack involving multiple drones and missiles like the campaign launched late Saturday by Iran, the likelihood of a strike making it through is higher.

ISRAELI ARMY SAYS IT IS DETERMINED TO DEFEND THE COUNTRY

The Israel Defense Forces says that it is prepared to defend itself against a massive drone attack launched by Iran.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the army’s spokesperson, said the country is closely monitoring the drones that are headed to Israel.

“Our defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness,” he said. “Together with our partners, the Israel Defense Forces is operating at full-force to defend the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”

US PLEDGES UNWAVERING SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL AMID IRANIAN ATTACK

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Saturday that the United States “will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

The Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “and made clear that Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.”

National security adviser Jake Sullivan also spoke with his counterpart to reinforce Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security.

ISRAEL CLOSES ITS AIRSPACE AS IT ANTICIPATES DRONE ATTACK

Israel says it has closed its airspace after Iran launched dozens of drones against it late Saturday.

Israeli aviation authorities said they were closing the country’s airspace to all flights as of 12:30 a.m. local time (5:30 p.m. EDT).

ATTACK REPRESENTS FIRST DIRECT MILITARY ASSAULT ON ISRAEL BY IRAN

The attack late Saturday marked the first time Iran had ever launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran has a vast arsenal of drones and missiles. Tehran’s choice of the Shahed-136 drones both give Israel and its allies hours to shoot down the bomb-carrying drones. For the time being, it does not appear Iran has used any of its ballistic missiles in the attack, which would pose a greater risk to Israel.

 

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The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel