Israel wants Iran sanctioned as world warns vs escalation

Agence France-Presse
Israel wants Iran sanctioned as world warns vs escalation
This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024 shows Israeli air defence systems intercepting projectiles amid an Iranian attack on Israel, as seen from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed early April 14, 2024 that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike on its Damascus consulate
AFP / Saleh Hamad

JERUSALEM – World powers urged restraint on April 14 for fear that Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone strikes on Israel could spark a wider war in the Middle East, as the United Nations heard a call for new sanctions against Tehran.

Iran launched the attack, its first ever to directly target Israeli territory, in retaliation for a deadly air strike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed Tehran’s consular building in Syria’s capital in early April.

The strikes raised Middle East tensions to a dangerous new level six months into a deadly conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, prompting international cries of alarm.

“Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the body’s Security Council as it met to discuss April 13’s Iranian attack.

“The Middle East is on the brink,” he warned. “The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate.”

Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan urged the Council to “impose all possible sanctions on Iran before it’s too late” and “condemn Iran for their terror.”

G7 leaders earlier said they were ready to “take further measures” in response to “destabilizing initiatives.”

Iran’s UN envoy Amir Saeid Iravani retorted that the Islamic republic was exercising its “inherent right to self-defense” and “had no choice” but to act. He insisted his country did “not seek escalation or war,” but would respond to any “threat or aggression.”

Israel intercepts projectiles

Through the night of April 13, air raid sirens wailed and Israelis sought cover in bunkers and shelters as missile defense systems and warplanes intercepted drones and missiles.

Israel and its allies intercepted the vast majority of the more than 300 incoming projectiles, the Israeli army said, reporting 12 people injured and no deaths, but the attack sharply heightened fears of an Israeli counterstrike.

“Together we thwarted Iran’s attack,” Israeli military spokesman Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement. “This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East.”

G7 leaders condemned Iran’s attack and called for “restraint” on all sides, European Council President Charles Michel wrote on X after a video conference.

“We will continue all our efforts to work towards de-escalation. Ending the crisis in Gaza as soon as possible, notably through an immediate ceasefire, will make a difference.”

Israel’s top ally, the United States, also urged caution and calm.

“We don’t want to see this escalate,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC. “We’re not looking for a wider war with Iran.”

Proxy war over

A senior US official said President Joe Biden had told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not offer military support for any retaliation on Iran.

“We would not be a part of any response they do,” the official told reporters on a call, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We would not envision ourselves participating in such an act.”

Biden reaffirmed the US’s “ironclad” support for Israel, but also appeared to guide it away from a military response against the two countries’ common adversary, Iran.

News outlet Axios reported that Biden had told Netanyahu he should “take the win” and that Washington would oppose an Israeli counterattack.

Before Tehran attacked, Israel’s military had warned Iran it would suffer the “consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”

Netanyahu on Sunday met with his war cabinet, formed at the outset of the Gaza conflict following the bloody Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on April 14 cautioned Israel against a “reckless” retaliation, warning this would spark “a decisive and much stronger response.”

Missiles, attack drones

Iran’s mission to the UN also warned Washington to keep out of its conflict with Israel.

It added in a message on X that “the matter can be deemed concluded.”

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

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on April 14 that “the campaign is not over yet – we must remain alert.”

Iran said its attack came in response to the April 1 air strike on Tehran’s consulate building in Damascus, which killed seven Revolutionary Guards including two generals.

The Israeli military said that while 170 drones and 30 cruise missiles were shot down before reaching Israel, a few of the 110 ballistic missiles did get through.

One of those wounded was a seven-year-old girl near Israel’s southern town of Arad who was in intensive care.

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