Latest Israel-Hamas War and Iran News: Live Updates


Israel’s war cabinet on Monday met to weigh possible responses to Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, as the United States, Britain and other allies strongly urged Israel to show restraint and sought to de-escalate tensions between the two regional powers.

Some far-right members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government called for a swift and forceful retaliation in response to Iran.

An Israeli official briefed on the cabinet discussions, speaking anonymously in order to talk about security matters, said several options were being considered, ranging from diplomacy to an imminent strike, but gave no further details. There was no immediate public statement by the ministers, or by the Israeli prime minister.

“We are weighing our steps,” Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the Israeli military chief of staff, told Israeli soldiers on Monday in televised remarks during a visit to an Israeli air base. “The launching of so many missiles, cruise missiles and drones toward Israeli territory will be responded to.”

Mr. Netanyahu faces a delicate calculation — how to respond to Iran in order not to look weak, while trying to avoid alienating the Biden administration and other allies already impatient with Israel’s prosecution of the war in Gaza.

While the United States, Britain and France strongly condemned Iran’s assault and stepped in to help thwart it on Saturday, their calls for restraint highlighted the pressure Israel was facing to avoid a more direct confrontation with Iran.

President Biden on Monday hailed the successful interception of Iran’s airstrikes, which Iran carried out in retaliation for a deadly airstrike on an Iranian Embassy complex in Syria two weeks earlier.

Parts of an Iranian missile seen in the back of a pickup truck as it was collected by the police in Israel on Sunday.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

“Together with our partners, we defeated that attack,” Mr. Biden said in his first public appearance since the strikes, speaking from the Oval Office where he was hosting Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani of Iraq.

“The United States is committed to Israel’s security,” he added, and was continuing to work toward a deal that would halt the war in Gaza, free the hostages there and prevent “the conflict from spreading beyond what it already has.”

Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, noted on Monday that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had spoken to officials in Britain, Egypt, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in an effort to ease tensions.

“We continue to make clear to everyone that we talk to that we want to see de-escalation, that we don’t want to see this conflict further escalated,” Mr. Miller told reporters in Washington. “We don’t want to see a wider regional war.”

Still, he added, “Israel is a sovereign country. They have to make their own decisions about how best to defend themselves.”

As Israel considered its next move, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, warned Israel again that, if attacked, Iran would “respond immediately to Israel’s adventures.”

“I reiterate that we are not seeking to increase tensions in the region,” Mr. Amir Abdollahian said, according to Iranian state media. But he added that if American bases in the region were used in an attack, Iran would “have no choice” but to target those bases.

Mr. Amir Abdollahian spoke to his British counterpart, David Cameron, on Monday, amid the diplomatic efforts to prevent further military strikes.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain described Iran’s attack as a “reckless and dangerous escalation” from a government that was “intent on sowing chaos in their backyard.” Faced with such threats, “Israel has our full support,” Mr. Sunak told British lawmakers. But he added that Britain was working with allies to de-escalate the situation, a point Mr. Cameron emphasized as well.

“We’re urging our Israeli friends to be smart as well as tough, to use head as well as heart, not to strike back, but to recognize that actually Iran has suffered a tactical and strategic defeat and Israel should now focus on Hamas and making sure they get that hostage deal and that we try to bring peace and stability to Gaza,” Mr. Cameron told the television program “Good Morning Britain.”

Displaced Palestinians taking the coastal Rashid Road to return to Gaza City as they pass through the central Gaza Strip on Sunday.Credit…-/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

His German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, went a bit further. Asked at a news conference on Monday whether Israel had the right to strike back, Ms. Baerbock said that “the right to self-defense means fending off an attack; retaliation is not a category in international law,” The Associated Press reported.

“Israel won in a defensive way,” she said, adding that “it is now important to secure this defensive victory diplomatically.”

Nearly all of the more than 300 drones and missiles that Iran fired at Israel on Saturday were shot down by Israel’s military with help from Britain, Jordan and the United States. The only serious casualty was a 7-year-old girl, Amina al-Hasoni, who was badly wounded.

On Monday, Iran said it was lifting airspace restrictions above Tehran, the capital, and reopening the domestic and international airports. In Israel, much of daily life returned to its usual rhythms, a day after the attack plunged the country into a state of anxiety.

In downtown Jerusalem, Jaffa Street was busy with shoppers and families out for a stroll at the start of a school break for the upcoming Passover holiday. Hip coffee shops and eateries in the fashionable German Colony neighborhood did a brisk business selling lattes and vegan lunch bowls.

On Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade, Lev Mizrach, 41, said he was taking the opportunity to enjoy some sunny peace and quiet while he could.

“For today, it seems we have a moment to rest,” Mr. Mizrach said. “I am hopeful this thing with Iran is over, for now, because I am sick and tired of war.”

Dana Ben Ami, 34, said she, too, hoped the crisis was over.

“Iran did what they needed to do,” Ms. Ben Ami said. “Enough. We should all just stop now and call it a day and agree that it is over.”

After more than six months of war in Gaza, she said, Israelis have little appetite for a new conflict with Iran.

Riding a bicycle past images of hostages kidnapped in the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv, on Monday.Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

“We have had enough of it all,” she said. “It’s time for Bibi to stop sending our husbands and sons to fight his wars,” she added, referring to Mr. Netanyahu by a widely used nickname. “We are sick and tired of his government.”

Israel’s options range from openly striking Iran to not retaliating at all, a concession that some analysts said Israel could leverage to encourage further international sanctioning of Iran or the formalization of an anti-Iranian alliance.

There is a precedent for doing nothing: During the Gulf War of 1991, as Iraq lobbed Scud missiles at Israeli cities, Yitzhak Shamir, then Israel’s hawkish prime minister, exercised restraint at the urging of the Bush administration to preserve the American-led coalition with friendly Arab states.

Israel could also revert to the ways of its yearslong shadow war with Iran, orchestrating some kind of bloodless cyberattack or relying on spy craft and covert actions against Iranian interests, inside or outside Iran, without claiming responsibility for them.

Israel’s choice will have strategic implications for its war in Gaza against Hamas, which is funded and armed by Iran, and for Palestinian civilians who have been struggling for months with violence and severe hunger. More than 33,000 Gazans have been killed in the war, local health authorities say.

Searching through the rubble of a collapsed building in the central Gaza Strip on Monday.Credit…-/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general and a former director of the Israeli military’s strategic planning division, said that if Israel responded with substantial force to the Iranian attack, it could incite a multifront war that would compel the Israeli leadership to move its attention away from Gaza.

In that case, General Brom said, Israel might choose to delay its plans to invade Rafah, in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians have sought refuge. Israeli officials describe Rafah as Hamas’s last stronghold.

“It’s not comfortable for us to have simultaneous, high-intensity wars in multiple theaters,” General Brom said.

Reporting was contributed by Liam Stack, Aaron Boxerman, Sheera Frenkel, Patrick Kingsley, Peter Baker and Farnaz Fassihi.


Source link

Scroll to Top