World

US will not take part in any Israeli retaliatory action against Iran

Apr 15, 2024

Washington [US], April 15: President Joe Biden warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. will not take part in a counter-offensive against Iran.
An option that Netanyahu's war cabinet favors after a mass drone and missile attack on Israeli territory, according to officials.
The threat of open warfare erupting between the arch Middle East foes and dragging in the United States has put the region on edge, triggering calls for restraint from global powers and Arab nations to avoid further escalation.
The U.S. will continue to help Israel defend itself but does not want war, John Kirby, the White House's top national security spokesperson, told ABC's "This Week" program on Sunday.
Jordan's King Abdullah told Biden in a phone call on Sunday that any further escalation from Israel would widen the conflict in the region, Jordanian state media reported.
Israeli officials said Netanyahu's five-member war cabinet favored retaliation in a meeting on Sunday, though the panel is divided over the timing and scale of any such response.
Iran launched the attack over a suspected Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Syria on April 1 that killed top Revolutionary Guards commanders and followed months of clashes between Israel and Iran's regional allies, triggered by the war in Gaza.
However, the attack by more than 300 missiles and drones, mostly launched from inside Iran, caused only modest damage in Israel as most were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defense system and with help from the U.S., Britain, France and Jordan.
An Air Force base in southern Israel was hit but continued to operate as normal and a 7-year-old child was seriously hurt by shrapnel. There were no other reports of serious damage.
Two senior Israeli ministers signalled on Sunday that retaliation by Israel was not imminent and that it would not act alone.
"We will build a regional coalition and exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us," centrist minister Benny Gantz said ahead of a war cabinet meeting.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also said Israel had an opportunity to form a strategic alliance "against this grave threat by Iran which is threatening to mount nuclear explosives on these missiles, which could be an extremely grave threat," he said. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
Gantz and Gallant are Israeli war cabinet members with decision-making powers.
In the meantime, Israel remained on high alert with emergency measures expected to remain in place until late on Monday, including a ban on school activities and caps on large gatherings.
"Over the last few hours, we approved operational plans for both offensive and defensive action," Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement.
Drone and missile interceptions cost around 4.5 billion shekels ($1.2 billion), according to Israel's Channel 13 News, which said some of the cost was funded by the U.S.
Iranian army chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri said on television, "Our response will be much larger than tonight's military action if Israel retaliates against Iran," and told Washington that its bases could also be attacked if it helped Israel retaliate.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran had informed the United States its attack on Israel would be limited and for self-defence and that regional neighbours had been informed of its planned strikes 72 hours in advance.
A Turkish diplomatic source said Iran had informed Turkey in advance.
Iran said the attack was aimed at punishing "Israeli crimes," but it now "deemed the matter concluded."
Russia, China, France, Germany and Turkey, as well as Arab states Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, urged restraint, and the U.N. Security Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday.
The leaders of the Group of 7 nations condemned Iran's attack and said they would work to stabilize the situation, warning in a statement that Tehran risked "an uncontrollable regional escalation."
ESCALATION
Analysts debated how far Iran's attack was calibrated to cause genuine devastation in Israel, or to save face at home after vows of revenge while avoiding a major new war.
"I think the Iranians took into consideration the fact that Israel has a very, very strong multi-layer anti-missile system and they probably took into consideration that there will not be too many casualties," said Sima Shine, a former senior Mossad official at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
But if Iran was hoping for a muted response, like with its missile attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq after the killing of Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in 2020, she warned "I don't think Israel sees it this way".
In Gaza, Iran's attack drew applause from many Palestinians as rare payback for the Israeli offensive on their enclave that has killed at least 33,000 people.
"We have been slaughtered for over six months and no one dared to do anything. Now Iran, after its consulate was hit, is hitting back at Israel and this brings joy into our hearts," Majed Abu Hamza, 52, a father of seven, from Gaza City.
On Saturday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards 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.
Some flights were suspended in countries across the region and share prices fell in stock markets in Israel and Gulf states.
The war in Gaza, which Israel invaded after an attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Oct. 7, has spread to fronts with Iran-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
The Israeli prime minister has for years advocated a tough military line against Iran, pushing the United States for harder action over Tehran's nuclear programme and its backing for Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups in the region.
In Israel, although there was alarm at the first direct attack from another country in more than three decades, the mood was in contrast to the trauma after the Hamas-led attack on Oct.7.
"I think we've been given license to respond now. I mean it was a major attack from Iran. I imagine Israel will respond and may be over quickly and get back to normal life," said Jeremy Smith, 60.
In Iran, state television showed small gatherings in several cities celebrating the attack, but in private some Iranians were worried about Israel's response.
"Iran gave Netanyahu a golden opportunity to attack our country. But we, the people of Iran, will bear the brunt of this conflict," said Shima, a 29-year-old nurse, from Tehran.
Source: Fijian Broadcasting Corporation

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