Updated Apr 13, 2024 - World

Iran launches retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel

Explosions are seen in the skies of the capital, following the attack from Iran in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 14, 2024. (Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Explosions are seen in the skies of Tel Aviv, Israel after an attack from Iran on Apr. 14, 2024. Photo: Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images

Iran launched attack drones and missiles against Israel on Saturday night local time in retaliation for an airstrike in Syria that killed a top Iranian general.

The big picture: It's the first attack Iran has launched from its soil against Israel. U.S. officials are concerned an Israeli retaliation against Iran will lead to another regional escalation.

The latest: At 3:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) canceled its order for Israelis to stay near bomb shelters and safe rooms, signaling it thinks the Iranian attack is over.

  • "More than 200 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles were fired from Iran," IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said.
  • Iran's state television earlier confirmed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched "a wide-ranging drone strike against Israel."
  • The IRGC also said it "fired dozens of cruise missiles at specific targets inside the occupied territories."
  • Hagari said most of the threats were intercepted outside of Israeli airspace. "A very small number of missiles hit Israeli territory with minor damages to a military base in southern Israel."

The Israeli security cabinet authorized prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense minister Yoav Gallant and minister Benny Gantz to decide on the Israeli response to the Iranian attack, two Israeli officials said.

  • The Israeli war cabinet is expected to convene tomorrow to discuss the issue.
  • The UN Security Council is expected to meet tomorrow at Israel's request to discuss the attack, Israeli officials said.

Zoom in: Iran's specific targets were initially unclear, but the IDF ordered citizens in several areas to stay close to a safe room or a bomb shelter, saying the warning reflected officials' assessment of the targets. Those areas included:

  • The northern Golan Heights
  • The southern city of Eilat, where the Israeli navy has its second-largest base
  • The city of Dimona, near the Israeli nuclear reactor and near the Nevatim air base in southern Israel

Two senior Israeli officials told Axios U.S. forces intercepted dozens of Iranian drones over Iraq and Jordan before they reached Israeli airspace.

  • "U.S. forces in the region continue to shoot down Iranian-launched drones targeting Israel. Our forces remain postured to provide additional defensive support and to protect U.S. forces operating in the region," a U.S. defense official said.
  • The IRGC in a statement said "any [U.S.] support and participation in harming Iran's interests will result in a decisive and regretful response from the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Around 2am local time Sunday, sirens went off across Israel as Iranian drones that weren't intercepted above Jordan and Iraq entered Israeli airspace.

  • Videos on social media showed interceptor missiles from Israel's Iron Dome defense system being fired at the drones, lighting up the sky.
  • A 10-year-old child was reported wounded, according to an emergency services statement.

Catch up quick: Iran publicly vowed to "punish" Israel for the recent assassination of Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a top Iranian Quds Force general in charge of Iran's military operations in Lebanon and Syria.

  • Zahedi was killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a building near the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria.
  • He was the most senior IRGC officer to be killed since the U.S. assassinated Qasem Soleimani in 2020.

What they're saying: "Our defensive systems are deployed. We are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

  • "We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so levelheadedly and with determination."
  • President Biden on Saturday evening said on X that the U.S. "commitment to Israel's security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad."
  • U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson in a statement said the White House is in "constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies."

Iran's mission to the United Nations said in a statement that the attacks were justified by Article 51 of the UN Charter, which recognizes a nation's right to self-defense if attacked by another nation.

  • The statement said "Iran's military action was in response to the Zionist regime's aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus."
  • "The matter can be deemed concluded," the statement said. "However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran's response will be considerably more severe."
  • The statement concluded by saying the conflict was between Iran an Israel and that the U.S. "MUST STAY AWAY!"

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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