Concluded retaliation against Israel, says Iran

Summons Western envoys for their position over response

President Raisi vows ‘stronger response’ to any ‘reckless’ Israeli move & Biden tells Netanyahu US will not take part in retaliatory action against Iran n Tehran says notified neighbouring countries ahead of attack.

JERUSALEM/TEHRAN/WASHINGTON  -  Iran on Sunday urged Israel not to retaliate militarily to an unprecedented attack overnight, which Tehran presented as a justified response to a deadly strike on its consulate building in Damascus.

“The matter can be deemed concluded,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said in a post on social media platform X just a few hours after the start of the operation late Saturday.

“However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission warned.

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday warned Israel and its allies against any “reckless” actions after Tehran’s drone and missile attack, which marked the first time Iran has launched a direct military assault on Israeli territory. “If the Zionist regime (Israel) or its supporters demonstrate reckless behaviour, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Raisi said in a statement. After numerous countries condemned the attack, Tehran’s foreign ministry summoned the French, British, and German ambassadors “following the irresponsible positions of certain officials of these countries regarding Iran’s response”, a statement said.

Late Saturday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps announced that they had launched “dozens of drones and missiles” towards military sites on Israeli territory.

“Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus” earlier this month, the Iranian mission to the UN said, dubbing it “legitimate defence”. Israel’s army said it had shot 99 percent of the drones and missiles with the help of the United States and other allies, declaring Iran’s attack “foiled”.

 The Iranian army chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri said the at­tack has “achieved all its objec­tives” and there was “no intention to continue this operation”. Bagh­eri said Iran’s retaliation target­ed an “intelligence centre” and the air base from which Tehran says the Israeli F-35 jets took off to strike the Damascus con­sulate on April 1. “Both these centres were significantly de­stroyed,” he said, though Israel maintains that the attack only resulted in minor damage.

Experts have suggested that Saturday’s slow-moving drone attack was calibrated to repre­sent a show of power but also allow some wiggle room. “It ap­pears that Iran telegraphed its attack on Israel to demonstrate it can strike using different ca­pabilities, to complicate the ability to neutralise the assault but also to provide an off-ramp to pause escalation,” said Nis­hank Motwani, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Washington.

“Tehran can escalate if it chooses to across a range of vectors,” said Motwani. Over the last two weeks, the Iranian au­thorities had repeatedly vowed to “punish” Israel after the death of seven Guards including two generals of the Quds Force in the attack that levelled the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

During the night, Tehran warned the United States, urg­ing it to “stay away” from its conflict with Israel. “If neces­sary”, Tehran “will not hesi­tate to take defensive measures to protect its interests against any aggressive military action,” Iran’s foreign ministry said.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian later said Tehran had notified neighbour­ing countries ahead of the mili­tary operation, stressing its ob­jective was “to punish the Israeli regime”. “We are not seeking to target the American people or American bases in the region,” he said, but warned that Iran could target US military positions in­volved in “defending and sup­porting” Israel. “The next slap will be fiercer,” warned a mural unveiled overnight in Tehran’s Palestine Square, where sever­al thousands gathered, shouting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden warned Prime Min­ister Benjamin Netanyahu the US will not take part in a count­er-offensive against Iran if Isra­el decides to retaliate for a mass drone and missile attack on Is­raeli territory overnight, a White House official said.

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 US 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. The attack from more than 300 missiles and drones, mostly launched from inside Iran, caused only modest damage in Israel as most were shot down with the help of the US, Britain 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 is not imminent and 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 “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.

Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian said Tehran had in­formed the United States its at­tack on Israel would be “limit­ed” and for self defence and that regional neighbours had also been informed of its planned strikes 72-hours in advance. A Turkish diplomatic source said Iran had informed Turkey in ad­vance of what would happen.

Iran said the attack was aimed at punishing “Israeli crimes” but it now “deemed the mat­ter concluded.” Russia, China, France and Germany as well as Arab states Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates urged restraint and the UN Securi­ty Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday.

“We will do everything to stop a further escalation,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on a visit to China. “We can only warn everyone, especially Iran, against continuing this way.” Turkey also warned Iran it did not want further tension in the region. 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 US forces in Iraq after the killing of Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in 2020, she warned “I don’t think Israel sees it this way”. 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.

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