Israeli military vows response to Iran attack as calls for restraint mount

Israelis awaited word this week on how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would respond to Iran’s first-ever direct attack as international pressure for restraint grew amid fears of an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.

Netanyahu on Monday summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh a response to Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack, a government source told Reuters.

Military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said Israel would respond. He provided no details.

“This launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response,” he said at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel, which sustained some damage in Saturday night’s attack.

The prospect of Israeli retaliation has alarmed many Iranians already enduring economic pain and tighter social and political controls since protests in 2022-23.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for what it says was an April 1 Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus, and signaled that it does not seek further escalation, Reuters reported.

While the attack caused no deaths and limited damage, it has increased fears of open warfare between the long-time foes and fuelled concerns that violence rooted in the Gaza war is spreading.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Netanyahu at the weekend that the United States, which helped Israel blunt the Iranian attack, will not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

Iran’s response

The Iranian Army Chief Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi said on Monday however that Iran will not hesitate to give a “stormy and unified” response to any act of aggression against it.

In a message marking the National Army Day, Mousavi said great defensive measures of the country’s Army and Armed Forces have resulted in strong deterrent power.

According to him, Iran will respond to any aggression against the country’s national interests, borders and security, Iran’s Press TV reported.

Mousavi emphasized that the retaliatory strikes, dubbed Operation True Promise, revealed only a part of the capacity and strong will of the Iranian Armed Forces and were carried out in cooperation among the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Division, the Army, and the Defense Ministry.

Press TV reported that the Israeli airstrikes on Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus killed two generals of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, as well as five officers.

In response, on Saturday night, the IRGC targeted Israel with a barrage of drones and missiles. The extent of the damage on Israeli military bases is yet to be specified.

Following the reprisal, Iran warned Israel against taking any retaliatory actions and also urged the US to try not to involve itself in the conflict and signaled that it viewed the matter as “concluded.”

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