Iran warns Israel against retaliation for drone and missile attack; global powers urge restraint

JERUSALEM – Iran on April 14 warned Israel and the United States of a “much larger response” if there is any retaliation for its drone and missile strikes on Israeli territory, as Israel said “the campaign is not over yet”.

The threat of open warfare erupting between Iran and Israel that may drag in the US has put the Middle East on edge, as Washington said the US was not seeking conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to protect its forces and Israel.

Iran launched an unprecedented direct attack on Israel over a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria on April 1 that killed top Revolutionary Guard commanders and followed months of clashes between Israel and Iran’s regional allies, triggered by the war in the Gaza Strip.

Israel reported modest damage, while the US said it would discuss a diplomatic response with major powers later on April 14.

“We intercepted, we repelled. Together, we shall win,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the military campaign was not over, and “we must be prepared for every scenario”.

Israel will exact a price from Iran when the time is right, centrist war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said.

“We will build a regional coalition and exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us,” he said in a statement as Mr Netanyahu was preparing to meet his Cabinet.


Major-General Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s army chief of staff, warned on television that “our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran”, and told the US its bases could also be attacked if it helps Israel retaliate.

US President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Mr Netanyahu, is advising Israel that its successful defence against Iranian airstrikes constituted a major strategic victory that might not require another round of retaliation, US officials said.

“I told (Mr Netanyahu) that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks – sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel,” Mr Biden said, hinting at a desire for restraint.

Mr Biden said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on April 14 to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Iran’s brazen attack.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Britain is now working with its allies to de-escalate tensions, even as he confirmed that the British air force helped Israel shoot down “a number of Iranian attack drones”.

“What we now need is for calm heads to prevail,” Mr Sunak told the BBC.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is on a three-day tour of China, also cautioned against an escalation.

“We will do everything to stop a further escalation. We can only warn everyone, especially Iran, against continuing this way,” he said.

Russia, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman also urged restraint.

The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4pm Eastern Time on April 14 (4am, April 15, Singapore time) after Israel requested that it condemn Iran’s attack and designate the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation.

‘Push towards escalation’

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on April 14 seized an Israel-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important energy shipping routes, underscoring the risks to the world economy of a wider conflict.

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran in a show of support for the attack.

Demonstrators in Tehran’s Palestine Square chanted: “Death to Israel! Death to America!”

A mural saying “the next slap is fiercer” was unveiled in the square, where a huge banner has hung for days calling, in Hebrew, for Israelis to “take shelter”.

On April 14, demonstrators waved Iranian and Palestinian national flags alongside banners that read “God’s victory is near”.

The war in Gaza, which Israel invaded after an attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Oct 7, has ratcheted up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Iran’s most powerful ally in the region, the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah – which has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began – said early on April 14 that it fired rockets at an Israeli base.

Drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has attacked shipping lanes in and around the Red Sea to show solidarity with Hamas, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement.

Iran’s Fars news agency quoted a source as saying Tehran was closely watching Jordan, which might become the next target in case of any moves in support of Israel.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari, called Iran’s actions “very grave”, telling a televised briefing they “push the region towards escalation”.

Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, including more than 10 cruise missiles, and most were intercepted outside Israeli borders, he said.

The Iranian salvo caused light damage to one Israeli military facility, he said.

The Israeli military said it was not advising residents to prepare to take shelter, revising an earlier alert in an apparent signal of the end of the threat.

Israelis in Jerusalem said the overnight missile and drone attack was “frightening”, but they were confident in their country’s defences – and some called for retaliation.

Jerusalem awoke on April 14 to no noticeable difference in the main market or at its main train and bus stations.

“The situation is really frightening because we are afraid of what happens and all of the bombing and aircraft that are coming,” said 48-year-old Ayala Salant, a resident of Jerusalem.

“However, we are very, very happy with the alliance that helped us because most of the aircraft and missiles have not arrived (in) Israel. We hope that there will be a stop to this ongoing escalation soon.”

Mr Yishai Levi, 67, said Israel “once again proved technological… superiority, and handled it in an impressive manner”.

The world responds

Israel reopened its airspace as at 7.30am (12.30pm Singapore time) on April 14. Jordan and Iraq also reopened their airspaces after closing them late on April 13.

But several Iranian airports, including Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International, cancelled flights until April 15, Iranian state media reported.

Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon closed their airspaces on April 13 night.

Israel reopened its airspace at 7.30am local time (12.30pm Singapore time) on April 14, its airports authority said.

Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defences to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

Jordan said on April 14 that it intercepted flying objects that entered its airspace hours earlier.

Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.

Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defence systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.

The European Union, Britain, Japan, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Mexico, the Netherlands and Norway condemned Iran’s attack.

Hamas, on the other hand, defended Iran’s attack on Israel.

“We in Hamas regard the military operation conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran a natural right and a deserved response to the crime of targeting the Iranian consulate in Damascus and the assassination of several leaders of the Revolutionary Guard,” it said in a statement on April 14.


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