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Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s attack

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Tel Aviv, April 14: Israel on Sunday hailed its successful air defences in the face of an unprecedented attack by Iran, saying it and its allies thwarted 99 per cent of the more than 300 drones and missiles launched toward its territory. But regional tensions remain high, amid fears of further escalation in the event of a possible Israeli counter-strike.
US President Joe Biden said he would convene a meeting of the Group of Seven advanced democracies on Sunday “to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.” The language indicated that the Biden administration does not want to spiral into a broader military conflict. A top US official said the US had informed Israel it does not plan on striking Iran itself.
Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel on an Iranian consular building in Syria earlier this month which killed two Iranian generals. Israel said Iran launched 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles.
By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over and Israel reopened its air space.
The two foes have for years been engaged in a shadow war marked by incidents like the Damascus strike. But Sunday’s assault, which set off air raid sirens across Israel, was the first time Iran has launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Israel has over the years established – often with the help of the United States – a multi-layered air-defence network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.
That system, along with collaboration with the US and other forces, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already bogged down in its war against Hamas in Gaza and engaged in low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.
Israeli and US officials lauded the response to the aerial assault.
“Iran launched more than 300 threats and 99 per cent were intercepted,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman. “That is a success.” Asked if Israel would respond, Hagari said the country would do what was needed to protect its citizens.
Hagari said that none of the drones and cruise missiles reached Israel and that only a few of the ballistic missiles got through. He said that of the cruise missiles, 25 were shot down by the Israeli air force.
Hagari said minor damage was caused to an Israeli airbase, but he said it was still functioning. Rescuers said a 7-year-old girl was seriously wounded in southern Israel, apparently in a missile strike, though they said police were still investigating the circumstances of her injuries.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a short message on X, formerly Twitter: “We intercepted. We blocked. Together, we will win.” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also celebrated the results, thanking the US and other countries for their assistance.
Israel announced it reopened its airspace, loosening one restriction it had imposed ahead of the strike, although schools remained closed around the country and traffic on the first day of the Israeli workweek was lighter than usual as many people stayed home or recovered from the long night. Neighbouring Jordan also reopened its airspace.
Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said the operation was over, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
“We have no intention of continuing the operation against Israel,” he was quoted as saying.
Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Israel may be particularly proud of the success of its defence because it stands in sharp contrast to the failures it endured during Hamas’ attack on October 7. Facing a far less powerful enemy in Hamas, Israel’s border defences collapsed and the military took days to repel the marauding militants – an embarrassing defeat for the Middle East’s strongest and best-equipped army.
While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image, what it does next will be closely watched both in the region and in Western capitals.
The US, along with its allies, has sent direct messages to Tehran to warn against further escalating the conflict. Leaders from the G7 will hold a video conference on Sunday early afternoon to discuss the Iranian strikes against Israel, according to Italy, which holds the presidency of the group of developed countries, which includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, and Canada.
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard issued a new threat against the US.
“The terrorist US government is warned any support or participation in harming Iran’s interests will be followed by decisive and regretting response by Iran’s armed forces,” said a statement carried by IRNA. (AP)

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