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World Eyes on Israel as Fears of Escalation in Middle Eastern Armed Conflict Grow

Six months following the massacre by Hamas on October 7th, Israel finds itself in another crisis situation.
Iran had promised harsh retaliation two weeks ago for the attack on April 1st, which resulted in the deaths of at least eight Iranian military officers. The Israeli strike demolished the Iranian consulate building in Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Israeli officials signaled early in the morning on April 12th that Iran may soon launch an attack against Israel. The United States Embassy in Israel issued a warning to its employees and urged American citizens in Israel to avoid traveling outside the regions protected by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Anticipating the Iranian attack, on April 13th, a Saturday, the Israeli military declared full readiness: banning mass events, educational activities, and restricting outdoor gatherings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released an official statement saying that Israel had been preparing for the possibility of an Iranian attack over the past weeks, adding, "The State of Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces are strong."

IRAN ATTACKS ISRAEL WITH HUNDREDS OF DRONES

On the night of April 13th, Saturday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced that Iran had initiated an attack against them, deploying more than 300 drones and missiles. Both Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard also stated they had launched operations against Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a war cabinet in response.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari first reported that Iran had launched a dozen unmanned 'suicide drones' towards Israeli airspace. Israeli officials said a small portion of the drones and cruise missiles came from Iraq and Yemen, with these drones being intercepted beyond Israel's borders.

This marks the first direct clash between the two states since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict.

The majority of the attacking drones were neutralized by the IDF before causing harm. Michael Singh, a security policy expert and former member of the United States National Security Council, noted that the attacks had relatively little impact, describing it as a "slow, carefully monitored, and ultimately unsuccessful retaliation" from Iran.

So far, there has only been a report of a 7-year-old girl who suffered a severe head injury due to the attack and had to undergo surgery.

In Jordan, neighboring Israel, a state of emergency was declared, the country's airspace was closed, and the military was placed on the highest level of alert. In the northern city of Haifa in Israel, shelters were opened, and CNN's on-site correspondent reported that the population was urged not to panic but to stay careful and vigilant.

THE UNITED STATES AND OTHERS ASSIST ISRAEL

Israel managed to intercept nearly 99% of the Iranian attack, but not without aid.

On April 12th, Friday, Joe Biden announced at the White House, "The United States is committed to the defense of Israel," warning Iran that it wouldn't achieve success and that they "better not." Keeping his promise, the U.S. participated in repelling the Iranian attack, with American forces shooting down over 70 drones and at least three ballistic missiles, the latter by ships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.

THE UNITED KINGDOM AND JORDAN ALSO PLAYED A ROLE IN DEFENSE, ASSISTING IN SHOOTING DOWN SEVERAL DRONES.

Soon after, Daniel Hagari mentioned that France also participated in the defense. "France has very good technology, airplanes, radars – and I know they contributed to airspace surveillance,” the spokesperson added, noting, however, that he had no precise information on whether French planes had shot down any Iranian missiles.

Following their participation in Israel's defense, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Britain, France, and Germany to question what it called their "irresponsible stance" on Iran's retaliatory strikes against Israel.

IRAN PROMISES FURTHER RETALIATION FOR ANY ISRAELI ATTACK

The Iranian representation to the UN announced early Sunday morning that they consider the attack "closed," warning that any counter-strike by Israel would be met with retaliation.

Iran's Chief of Staff, Mohammad Bagheri, said on Sunday morning according to Sky News, that they would launch an even larger attack against Israel should there be any Israeli retaliation. He added that if Washington supports Israel's counter-strike, they would also target American interests.

Iran's Foreign Ministry stated on Sunday: Iran had struck back at Israel as an act of legitimate self-defense.

"The armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, exercising their inalienable right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter in response to repeated military aggressions (...) struck Israel's military bases," the Iranian Foreign Ministry declared.

The statement further mentioned that Iran "will not hesitate to take further defensive measures to protect its legitimate interests against any acts of aggressive military action or the unlawful use of force."

SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES COULD RESULT FROM AN ISRAELI COUNTER-STRIKE

In a televised address early Sunday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the Iranian attack against Israel. Meanwhile, the Defense Minister announced that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would continue the campaign that began on October 7th of the previous year.

Israel's narrow cabinet met on Sunday afternoon at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv to discuss possible responses. Meanwhile, some were already stating that Israel must respond. Itamar Ben Gvir, the Minister of National Security, wrote on social media, "Impressive defense so far – now we just need a devastating strike."

Military analyst SEAN BELL mentioned that everything now depends on BENJAMIN NETANYAHU and ISRAEL'S response.

He noted, based on past experiences, it's not certain if the Israeli Prime Minister will heed calls from the Americans for restraint. Security policy expert József Kis-Benedek told Index that it's unlikely the Middle Eastern war will further escalate. Iran has made it clear that it controls the situation from behind the scenes.

On Sunday evening, Isaac Herzog spoke to Sky News, stating that global leaders must "make clear" to the Iranian regime that its behavior is "unacceptable."

"We seek peace. We have made peace time and again with our neighbors. Tragically, it all started on October 7, when one of Iran's proxies, Hamas, led an incredibly brutal massacre against Israeli citizens, the rest is history. We are aware of this. So, this situation needs to be put into perspective,” the Israeli President expressed.

WORLD POLITICAL LEADERS REACT

JOE BIDEN, President of the United States, had a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early Sunday morning. The American President communicated his support for defense but cautioned Israel against responding to Iran's attack.

The American President convened the world's seven most advanced industrial democratic countries (G7 group) in light of the events. Following the meeting, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced that the G7 and the EU are considering additional sanctions against Iran, targeting the country's drone and missile programs.

Furthermore, Joe Biden noted that American soldiers or facilities have not yet been attacked but that they "remain vigilant to all threats."

RISHI SUNAK, the British Prime Minister, along with his fellow politicians, "strongly condemned" Iran's bold attack against Israel. The politician stated that the United Kingdom "will continue to stand with Israel and all its regional partners for their security."

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, also condemned the attack against Israel and urged restraint and the immediate cessation of hostilities on both sides. In his late Saturday night statement, Guterres wrote he is "deeply concerned about the real danger of destructive escalation across the region." He added: the world "cannot afford another war."

OLAF SCHOLZ, the German Chancellor, called the overnight Iranian counter-strike "indiscriminate and irresponsible," writing on social media that Iran risks further escalation in the region. He added, "Germany stands with Israel and will discuss the situation with our allies."

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, the Spanish Prime Minister, expressed his "utmost concern" about the developments in the Middle East on X (formerly Twitter). Highlighting, "Regional escalation must be avoided at all costs. We are constantly in contact with our embassies in the region, which remain active to assist Spaniards living there."

DONALD TUSK, the Polish Prime Minister, mentioned regarding the events that "the world is on the brink of an abyss," therefore the Polish state needs to be strong, society solidary, the military well-prepared, and the international situation stable.

MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, finds the situation in the Middle East "very worrying." As he wrote: Previously, the Netherlands and other countries loudly and clearly called on Iran to refrain from attacking Israel. The Netherlands firmly condemns Iran's attack against Israel. Further escalation must be avoided.

STÉPHANE SÉJOURNÉ, the French Foreign Minister, also condemned the Iranian attack, which, according to him, saw Tehran "cross a new line in its destabilizing activities." He reassured France's solidarity with Israel.

ANTONIO TAJANI, the Italian Foreign Minister, announced that Italy is "watching the situation with attention and concern." He added: he had discussions with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, stating the government "is prepared to handle any situation."

The attack also prompted reactions from former U.S. President Donald Trump, Pope Francis, and leaders of EU institutions.

HUNGARY CONDEMNS THE IRANIAN ATTACK

Hungary's position was first conveyed early Sunday morning by Hungarian Foreign Minister PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ. As he wrote: "Hungary strongly condemns the missile attack launched against Israel. This action carries the risk of escalating the Middle Eastern conflict, which poses a serious threat to global security."

Meanwhile, the Hungarian Embassy in Tel Aviv also issued a notice, accentuating:

Due to the currently tense situation between Israel and Iran and related media reports, we advise all Hungarian citizens to organize their movements within Israel with even greater caution than before.

Citizens of the Jewish state were also urged to pay close attention to developments related to the security situation.

On Sunday afternoon, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán convened the Defense Council at the Karmelite Monastery. The Prime Minister instructed the Minister of Interior and the Counter-Terrorism Unit to ensure the safety of Hungarian people by all available means, later announcing that he would travel to Brussels on Tuesday to review the situation with European leaders.

"We condemn the attack, but the attack threatens to ignite an interstate war across the entire Middle East, posing a threat, a serious threat to the entire world, including Hungary," the Prime Minister said.
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