Israel will ‘respond’ to Iran’s attack, warns military chief; nuclear watchdog ‘worried’ | Latest updates

2024 Iran-Israel Conflict Updates: Israel Defense Forces chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Monday evening warned that Iran’s missile and drone attack on the country on Saturday night that caused slight damage to an airbase “will be met with a response”. The Israel’s military chief’s statement comes even as Israelis awaited word on how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would respond to Iran’s first-ever direct attack on their country, amid international pressure for restraint to avoid escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

Israeli Army chief Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi (L) attends a situational assessment with members of the General Staff Forum at the Kirya military base, which houses the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv. (AFP)

Army’s spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel will respond “at the time that we choose”. Both men spoke at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, which Hagari said suffered only light damage in the Iranian attack.

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Iran’s attack on Saturday came in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike two weeks earlier on an Iranian consular building in the Syrian capital of Damascus that killed two Iranian generals. Iran’s attack marked the first time the country has launched a direct military assault on Israel despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran launched hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles at Israel in the attack. The Israeli military, however, claimed 99 per cent of the drones and missiles were intercepted, by Israel’s own air defences and warplanes and in coordination with a US-led coalition of partners.

2024 Iran-Israel conflict: Latest updates

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevisaid Israel is considering its next steps but that the Iranian strike “will be met with a response.”“Iran wanted to harm the strategic capabilities of the State of Israel — that is something that had not happened before. We were prepared for the ‘Iron Shield’ operation — preparation that brought Iran to also encounter aerial superiority,” Herzi Halevi said.“We are looking ahead, we are considering our steps, and this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response,” he said.Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, on Monday summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh a response to Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack, a government source said. But for a second straight day, the government made no announcements on any decisions.The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said he was concerned about Israel possibly targeting Iranian nuclear facilities, but that International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of Iranian facilities will resume on Tuesday. Iran closed its nuclear facilities on Sunday over “security considerations,” IAEA director feneral Rafael Grossi said. While they reopened on Monday, he kept IAEA inspectors away “until we see that the situation is completely calm.”In a conversation with US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Netanyahu said “Israel will do whatever is required to defend itself”, the prime minister’s office announced.But the Benjamin Netanyahu government is under heavy international pressure not to further escalate the conflict. The US has urged Israel to show restraint as it seeks to build a broad diplomatic response.US President Joe Biden told Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekend that America will not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British foreign secretary David Cameron made similar appeals. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also have called for restraint.The US, Britain and Jordan — a key American ally in the region — have all said their air forces helped intercept the Iranian missiles and drones.British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Group of Seven or G7 were working on a package of coordinated measures against Iran.Since the Gaza war began in October, clashes have erupted between Israel and Iran-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Israel said four of its soldiers were wounded hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory overnight.

(With inputs from agencies)

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