Published: 10:41, April 16, 2024
Israel’s top general vows response to ‘unprecedented’ Iran attack
By Xinhua
This handout picture released by the Israeli Army shows the head of the military, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi (left) attending a situational assessment with members of the General Staff Forum at the Kirya military base, which houses the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, on April 14, 2024. (ISRAELI ARMY VIA AFP) 

JERUSALEM/TEHRAN/WASHINGTON – The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces said on Monday that a response is imminent following Iran's "unprecedented" missile and drone attack on Israel.
Herzi Halevi’s announcement came during a video statement amid a meeting with pilots at the Nevatim Air Force base, which sustained mild damage from a ballistic missile during the Iranian offensive over the weekend.
Late Saturday, Iran launched about 350 drones and missiles in response to the killing of seven Iranians, including two veteran commanders, by Israel in a strike on the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Syria on April 1.   
In recent days, Israel's wartime Cabinet has been deliberating over a potential counterstrike to Iran's actions. However, there is division regarding the timing and extent of such a response, especially under international pressure urging Israel to moderate its actions.
On Monday, the wartime Cabinet met for about three hours and is scheduled to resume its meeting on Tuesday, according to a government statement.
The ministers discussed various response options at different intensity levels, ranging from minor to severe, and at several timings, including the possibility of an immediate response, as reported by Israel's N12 TV news.
Israel aims to carry out a response that is coordinated with the United States, intending to inflict damage without triggering full-scale conflict, according to the report.

Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, April 14, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

'Iranian attack aimed at deterrence'

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian had separate phone calls with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to exchange views on his country’s massive retaliatory military operation against Israel.
In his talks with Lavrov late on Sunday, Amir-Abdollahian stressed that the Iranian military action was limited and aimed at creating deterrence, punishing Israel and giving it a warning. If Israel were to take a new action against Iran, it would definitely receive a very severe response, he stressed.

Slamming German supportive position towards Israel, Amir-Abdollahian warned that if Israel persisted in its adventurism, Iran's response would be "reciprocal, immediate, and extensive”

Amir-Abdollahian praised Russia for its position on Iran's "legitimate" action.
Lavrov expressed regret that some countries refrained from condemning Israel's attack on Iran's consulate at the United Nations Security Council meeting earlier this month. Russia had no doubts that Iran would respond to the Israeli attack, noting that Moscow maintained that Iran's military action was a responsible and restrained response.
Expressing his hope for a de-escalation of tensions in the region, he assured that Russia would strongly defend and support Iran's action, which was based on the legitimate right to self-defense, at the UN Security Council.
During the phone conversation with his German counterpart on Monday, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran had carried out a "minimal and accurate" operation against Israeli military centers from which the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus had been launched.
He slammed Germany for its supportive position towards Israel and warned that if Israel persisted in its adventurism, Iran's response would be "reciprocal, immediate, and extensive”.
Iran's attack aimed to give a warning to Israel and make it realize the consequences of crossing Tehran's red lines, he added.
Highlighting the need to conduct extensive consultations during this "dangerous period", the German foreign minister said joint efforts should be focused on preventing the further expansion of the tensions.
Blinken 'urges restraint' from Israel 
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a veiled message Monday to Israel, urging the country to act with restraint in a potential response to the attack launched by Iran over the weekend.
In his first public remarks following the attack, he said that in the 36 hours since the attack, the US has been "coordinating a diplomatic response to prevent escalation" in the region.
"Strength and wisdom need to be different sides of the same coin," he said in what seemed to be an implicit call for Israel to exercise restraint in its response.
Standing alongside Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim – who would co-chair a US-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee meeting with Blinken afterward – the secretary said he has been in "close communication" with his counterparts in the region "and will continue to do so in the hours and days ahead".