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Israel under attack by Iran as Mideast in perilous new phase

Alisa Odenheimer, Arsalan Shahla and Donato Paolo Mancini, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Iran launched armed drones and missiles against Israel, marking a new and more dangerous phase of the Middle East conflict. The attack, in retaliation for a strike in Syria that killed top Iranian military officers, marked the first time Iran has struck Israel from its soil.

Israel’s armed forces announced late Saturday that Iran launched attacks from within its territory toward Israel and that Israeli forces were on high alert. Anticipating the arrival of the drones and missiles, Israel said it would shut down its airspace for domestic and international flights.

President Joe Biden returned to the White House from his private residence in Delaware. “I just met with my national security team for an update on Iran’s attacks against Israel,” Biden said in a posting on X, formerly Twitter. “Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

Iran’s mission to the United Nations said the action was a “legitimate” defensive response to the strike in Damascus — which Israel hasn’t acknowledged carrying out — and suggested it was a warning. It also warned the U.S. to stay away from the conflict. “The matter can be deemed concluded,” the Iranian mission said in a social media post. “However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe.”

Multiple alarms sounded in various locations in Israel: Jerusalem, Beer Sheva and Dimona in the south, and the Jewish settlement Ariel in the West Bank. Residents of Jerusalem reported hearing blasts. Alarms also sounded in Israel’s north. Just before the alarms went off, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari confirmed that Iran had launched missiles at Israel.

A U.S. defense official confirmed that its forces in the region shot down Iranian-launched drones targeting Israel. The U.K. Defense Ministry confirmed it deployed Royal Air Force jets to intercept Iranian drones headed for Israel if necessary.

 

Israel’s goal was to stop the missiles and drones before they land.

Over the past decade-and-a-half, Israel has upgraded its air defenses considerably, adding new systems for interceptions of ballistic missiles fired from as far away as 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles). That range includes Yemen, Syria and Iraq, where militant groups allied with Iran are based, as well as Iran.

The Israel Defense Forces said it was cutting off GPS services in some areas as part of its preparations and that “if we detect additional threats with a shorter arrival time, we will update you immediately.”

The assault escalates a Middle East conflict that began on Oct. 7 when thousands of Hamas operatives broke into Israel from Gaza, killing about 1,200 people and abducting 250. A direct clash between Iran and Israel would likely draw in the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah, which like Hamas is backed by Iran, and heighten the possibility of a regional war.

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