Israel's Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow

The Israeli military said the armed forces had shot down more than 99% of the Iranian drones and missiles

By Reuters

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Published: Sun 14 Apr 2024, 10:54 AM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday that his country would achieve victory after the military said it shot down almost all of the more than 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran in a sharp escalation of the Middle East conflict.

Tehran's attacks late on Saturday was launched after a suspected Israeli air strike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that killed officers of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp. The attacks raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

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Iran had relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and U.S. targets in a show of support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza war with Israel, which shows no sign of easing despite numerous mediations efforts.

"We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win," Netanyahu posted on X.

The Israeli military said the armed forces had shot down more than 99% of the Iranian drones and missiles and were discussing follow-up options.

Israel's Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a "significant response" to the attack.

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.

'Push towards escalation'

Iran's most powerful ally in the region, the Hezbollah in Lebanon - which has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began - said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.

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

Israel's chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, called Iran's actions "very grave", telling a televised briefing they "push the region toward escalation".

Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and U.S., its main supporter. Regional power Egypt urged "utmost restraint".

UN Security Council to meet

U.S. President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Iran's brazen attack.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect U.S. forces and support defence of Israel.

The U.N. Security Council was set to meet at 4 pm ET on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran's attack and designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organisation.


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