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Iran launches airstrikes toward Israel in retaliatory move, boosting chance of wider conflict

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — Iran launched waves of attack drones toward Israel on Saturday in retaliation for a deadly Israeli airstrike this month, in what may be the start of a broader multi-front reprisal.

A military response from Israel is expected, although it was unclear how robust it would be. Air raid sirens were reported in Israel early Sunday. An Israeli military spokesman said that Iran had fired more than 200 “deadly drones” as well as cruise and ballistic missiles but that the “vast majority of threats” had been intercepted “with assistance from our partners.”

Attacks from Iranian soil toward Israel proper represent a major escalation in the regional conflict amid the Israel-Hamas war that has raged for six months in Gaza.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said early Sunday that the attack caused minor damage to one military base and no serious casualties.

Hagari said Israel had been on high security alert, canceling school and large public gatherings. Regional governments, Israel and its major ally, the U.S., had been bracing for a violent response from Iran after Israeli airstrikes April 1 killed seven senior Iranian officials at an Iranian diplomatic mission in Syria.

President Joe Biden cut short his weekend in Delaware on Saturday and rushed back to the White House, where he was joined by a team of national security advisers.

 

Biden was also joined by the secretaries of Defense and State, Lloyd J. Austin III and Antony J. Blinken, amid reports from the Pentagon that U.S. forces deployed across the Middle East were helping Israel pinpoint, intercept and destroy incoming rockets. Biden also telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” Biden said in a statement.

In Jerusalem, journalists reported hearing overhead explosions that may have been weapons systems blasting incoming rockets, while warning sirens sounded through the early predawn hours. The Israeli army ordered residents in the Golan Heights, the disputed territory near Israel’s border with Syria, to “stay in protective spaces.”

Iran, through its official state news agency IRNA, said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired “dozens of drones and missiles toward the positions of the Zionist regime in the occupied Palestinian territories.” Iran considers all of Israel to be an occupied territory.

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