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World leaders discourage Israel from retaliating against Iran, US denies ties to Iran over attack

Israel’s military chief said on Monday that the country will retaliate after Iran launched an attack using hundreds of drones, ballistic and cruise missiles. World leaders have urged Israel not to retaliate.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “all sides must show restraint” to avoid a rising spiral of violence in the Middle East. French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would try to “convince Israel that we must not respond with escalation.”

Italy warned that any Israeli response to Iran’s attack on the country over the weekend could lead to a spike in violence, local media reported on Monday. Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said during a hearing of the Italian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission:

We hope that Israel, strengthened by its military victory, will want to make common sense prevail by desisting from further reactions that could trigger a spiral of violence harmful to everyone. We demand that Iran and affiliated groups cease their attacks and stand ready to take further measures in response to any new destabilising initiatives.

Speaking at the same hearing, Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said the Iranian attack increased the risk of collateral damage in the Red Sea and Lebanon, where Italy has a warship and troops, respectively, as part of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission.

As for the risk of possible escalation as a result of a possible Israeli response, he said:

I am not and do not want to call myself pessimistic, but I am certainly worried: there could be a reaction from Israel and a new spiral of violence and war could still be triggered.

The US and the G7 countries also issued statements condemning the Iranian attack. However, the White House made clear that the US would not join Israel in any offensive action against Iran.

The White House on 15 April attempted to correct reports of an Iranian attack on Israel, specifically calling “narrative” the claim that Tehran had informed Washington of an impending attack. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing:

I’ve seen reporting that the Iranians were meant to fail, and this spectacular and embarrassing failure was all by design. I’ve also seen Iran say they provided early warning to help Israel prepare its defenses and limit any potential damage. All of this is categorically false. To steal a phrase from the president, it’s malarkey.

Iran’s intention to cause significant destruction and casualties was evident in the scale of its attack, he said. By launching so many missiles and munitions, Iran sought to guide as many missiles as possible through Israeli defences and overwhelm the systems.

Mr. Kirby also highlighted and then denied speculation about communications between the US and Iran about the attack. While he confirmed that Iran and the US sent messages back and forth, no messages were passed to anyone about the timing of the attack, the targets chosen or the munitions used.

The messages came from Turkey and Iraq, and when asked about the discrepancy in reporting, Mr. Kirby called the story “nonsense”. He said:

All I’m telling you is it’s nonsense. Think about this for a minute. Can you imagine a world in which Iran would pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, we’re about to try to schwack Israel with 300 cruise missiles and drones, we just wanted to let you know it’s coming, and oh, by the way, here’s what we’re going to hit’? I’m sorry. It just didn’t happen.

The coordinated April 13 attack came from the Islamic regime in Tehran and its proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, according to a senior US defence official. Iran launched an air attack on Israel on Saturday in retaliation for an April 1 airstrike on its diplomatic embassy in the Syrian capital. It reportedly fired more than 300 drones and missiles, but almost all of them were intercepted by the air defence systems of Israel and its allies – the US, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The interception was carried out with the help of fighter jets, US Navy destroyers in the area and Israel’s Iron Dome system. Mr. Kirby said:

This attack was defeated thanks to our preparations, to a coalition of committed partners, and to Israel’s remarkable defensive systems.

The day before the attack, President Joe Biden said he expected Iran to launch an attack on Israel, telling members of the media that, while he did not want to discuss classified information, his expectation was “sooner than later.” His message to Iran that day was simply, “Don’t.”

Nevertheless, Iran did so, and on 15 April, Israel Defence Forces head Herzi Halevi told reporters that Israel would respond to an Iranian attack, although he did not specify what that response would be.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the retaliation against Israel was “necessary and appropriate” and was for military purposes. Israel has vowed to respond to the attack. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian vowed that any further Israeli attack would be met with a “stronger” and “extensive” response.

A representative of the National Security Commission of the Iranian Parliament has said that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to use weapons, which it has never used before, in case of any Israeli aggression.

Calling on Israelis to behave sensibly, Abolfazl Amouei emphasised in an interview with local media:

We are ready to use weapons that we have not used so far. We have plans for all scenarios. In this regard, we will behave rationally and courageously.

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