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Iran attack 'will be met with a response,' Israel says

Published April 15, 2024last updated April 16, 2024

Israeli officials are holding talks to discuss a response to Iran's attack over the weekend. Meanwhile, Germany has summoned the Iranian ambassador. DW has more.

Israeli ministers, including Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, hold a meeting to discuss an attack by Iran on Israeli territory
Israel said it was at "high readiness on all fronts" but has declined to comment on next steps Image: Israeli Government Press Office/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israel discussing retaliation options after Iran attack
  • Biden meets Iraqi PM, seeks to prevent escalation of Mideast tensions
  • Germany summons Iranian ambassador

Here are the main headlines from the Middle East on Monday, April 15:

Skip next section 'Israel cannot allow this to go unchallenged' but all-out war not inevitable — expert tells DW
April 16, 2024

'Israel cannot allow this to go unchallenged' but all-out war not inevitable — expert tells DW

Israeli retaliation against Iran is likely at some point but it will have to be carefully choreographed so as not to spark a major regional war which wouldn't be in Israel's interests, according to Middle East analyst and US foreign policy expert Aaron David Miller.

"Even though the Iranian strikes caused very little damage, a new precedent was set, a new threshold was crossed, new rules were established," Miller told DW. "I don't think the Israelis can afford to allow this to go unchallenged."

Miller, a former advisor to both Republican and Democratic US secretaries of state, said the precise timing, nature and scale of an Israeli counterstrike is "impossible to predict," but suggested it would be aimed at "conventional military facilities."

Nevertheless, Miller, now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, does not believe a full-scale regional war is inevitable.

Such an outcome, he explained, would "almost inevitably" trigger a response from Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah, whose cruise missiles could reach any point in Israel in a matter of minutes from Lebanon, rather than the 12-15 minutes it takes such weapons to travel from Iran.

"The Israelis will want to avoid that," said Miller. "But it remains to be seen whether or not they can find a way to do what Iran did and calculate a response which is qualitatively and quantitatively different than anything the Iranians have done, but doesn't trigger a response that would escalate into a regional confrontation."

Iran’s drone strikes crossed new threshold: Aaron David Miller, Middle East analyst

Skip next section IDF: Iranian attack will be met with Israeli response
April 15, 2024

IDF: Iranian attack will be met with Israeli response

Herzi Halevi, the Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, said Iran's attack on Israel over the weekend will be met with retaliation.

"The launch of so many (Iranian) missiles, cruise missiles, UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response," Halevi said during a visit to the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel. The Nevatim base sustained minor damage after Iran's attack, according to the Israeli military.

The US, Israel's top ally, has said they are not clued into the plans. 

Israel weighs response to Iranian assault

"We will let the Israelis speak to that," White House spokesperson John Kirby said during a media briefing on Monday. "We are not involved in their decision-making process about a potential response."

Skip next section Biden wants to prevent Middle East conflict spreading
April 15, 2024

Biden wants to prevent Middle East conflict spreading

US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi PM Shia al-Sudani at the Oval Office on April 15
Biden and Iraq's Prime Minister Al-Sudani reiterated their strong partnership despite differences over some issues in the Middle East Image: Alex Brandon/AP/picture alliance

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that Washington is "committed to Israel's security" and to returning hostages held by Hamas but also to preventing a further spread of the conflict in the Middle East.

"We're committed to a cease-fire that will bring the hostages home and prevent the conflict spreading more than it already has," Biden said ahead of a meeting with Iraq's Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani at the White House.

Biden praised Saturday night's "unprecedented military effort to defend Israel," when an international coalition helped the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shoot down most of the 300 plus drones and missiles fired by Iran. "Together with our partners, we defended that attack," Biden said, and called for further cooperation in the region.

Addressing his Iraqi counterpart, he said: "Our partnership is pivotal for our nations, the Middle East and the world," while al-Sudani said the discussion comes at a "sensitive time."

Biden said he was "also committed to the security of our personnel and partners in the region, including Iraq."

The talks are expected to revolve specifically around the continued presence of US troops in Iraq as part of an anti-jihadist coalition. At least one Iranian ballistic missile was reportedly shot down by a US Patriot air defense battery station in Irbil, Iraq, on Saturday.

Al-Sudani said that, while views may differ on certain developments in the region, the US-Iraq relationship is at an "important juncture." He said he would like to work towards transitioning that relationship from purely military to one of "full partnership."

Skip next section Israel discussing retaliation options, wants to coordinate with US — Israeli media
April 15, 2024

Israel discussing retaliation options, wants to coordinate with US — Israeli media

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his government's war cabinet for an almost three-hour meeting on Monday to discuss Israel's response to Iran's massive aerial attack over the weekend.

According to Israeli broadcaster Channel 12, the options discussed range from minor to more intense, with Israel aiming to strike a balance between inflicting damage on Iran but not sparking a full-scale regional war.

The three-man war cabinet, in which Netanyahu is joined by defense minister Yoav Gallant and opposition centrist Benny Gantz, reportedly wants to coordinate any measures with the United States.

Washington, however, has made it clear that, while it will continue to defend Israel, it will not participate in any direct attacks on Iran.

Skip next section US doesn't want 'escalation' with Iran but will defend Israel — Blinken
April 15, 2024

US doesn't want 'escalation' with Iran but will defend Israel — Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has insisted that Washington does not want to see tensions rise with Iran but that the US will continue to defend Israel, as it did during what he called Iran's "unprecedented" attack on Saturday night.

"We don't seek escalation, but we'll continue to support the defense of Israel and to protect our personnel in the region," Blinken said ahead of a meeting with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Tamim.

"What this weekend demonstrated is that Israel did not have to and does not have to defend itself alone when it is the victim of an aggression, the victim of an attack," he added.

Blinken said he has been involved in a flurry of talks over the last 36 hours, including with his counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Britain and Germany, as he seeks to coordinate a diplomatic response to prevent any escalation of the crisis in the region.

The Iraqi deputy prime minister said Baghdad was concerned that the region could be "dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety." He called on all actors to exercise "self-restraint."

The meeting came ahead of talks between US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani at the White House on Monday.

Skip next section Hezbollah claims setting up explosives that injured Israeli soldiers
April 15, 2024

Hezbollah claims setting up explosives that injured Israeli soldiers

The Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group on Monday said it detonated "explosive devices" that targeted Israeli soldiers. 

Hezbollah said its fighters "planted explosive devices in the Tal Ismail area" inside Lebanon, and said they were detonated when Israeli troops encroached on Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah is a Shiite militant group that receives financial and military support from Iran and has been designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, Germany and other governments.

Separately, the Israeli military had said that four of its soldiers had been injured in an explosion along the northern border with Lebanon.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson also told AFP news agency that "we confirm that the incident occurred inside Lebanon."

The incident comes amid soaring tensions following Iran's missile and drone strikes targeting Israel and amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

There have been near-daily clashes along the border between Israel and Lebanon since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which was triggered by Hamas' terror attack on Israel on October 7 last year. 

Skip next section Germany summons Iranian ambassador following attack on Israel
April 15, 2024

Germany summons Iranian ambassador following attack on Israel

Germany summoned Iran's ambassador on Monday morning, news agencies reported, citing the German Federal Foreign Office.

The move comes after Iran's missile and drone attack on Israel over the weekend.

"I can inform you that the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the foreign ministry this morning and that the talks are currently taking place," a spokesman for the ministry told a regular government press conference, without specifying what issue would be raised.

Earlier on Monday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Israel had been successful in defending itself from what he called "a very brutal Iranian attack" and said steps now needed to be taken towards de-escalating the situation.

Scholz calls for de-escalation in Middle East after 'brutal' Iranian attack

Skip next section Iran says seized cargo ship 'violated international maritime laws'
April 15, 2024

Iran says seized cargo ship 'violated international maritime laws'

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday said that an Israeli-linked vessel — the MSC Aries which was seized by Iran's Revolutionary guards on Saturday — had violated international maritime law.

"The ship was directed into the territorial waters of Iran because it violated international maritime laws," Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

The Portuguese-flagged cargo ship's crew failed to "adequately respond to questions from Iranian authorities," he told a briefing.

The vessel was boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter as it passed the Strait of Hormuz, shipping company MSC said in a statement over the weekend.

The vessel has been linked to Zodiac Group, a shipping company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

The container ship is currently in Iranian waters between the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz and is being detained not far from three tankers confiscated by Iran last year, Tankertrackers, an online service tracking crude oil shipments, reported on X. 

The seizure of the ship took place just hours before Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israel, firing hundreds of drones and missiles. Israel says almost all of the missiles and drones were intercepted.

Iran's attack was in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria that killed two Iranian generals, among others.

There have been heightened tensions in the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

This image made from a video provided to the Associated Press by a Mideast defense official shows a helicopter raid targeting a vessel near the Strait of Hormuz
The MSC Aries was detained by the navy of the Islamic Revolutionary GuardCorps (IRGC) on SaturdayImage: picture alliance/AP
Skip next section Israel's War Cabinet to reconvene on Monday — report
April 15, 2024

Israel's War Cabinet to reconvene on Monday — report

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reconvene his War Cabinet at 2 p.m. (11 UTC/GMT), the Reuters news agency reported, citing a government source.

The cabinet, comprised of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, along with several observers, previously met on Sunday to discuss how to proceed following the Iranian missile and drone attack on Saturday.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) said the attack was in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike on Iran's consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus on April 1 in which two Iranian generals were killed.

Skip next section Iran not interested in full-scale war with Israel, expert tells DW
April 15, 2024

Iran not interested in full-scale war with Israel, expert tells DW

As Israel considers its response to the massive Iranian drone attack, there are fears that the conflict could escalate into a major war in the Middle East.

Kristin Helberg, a German journalist and Middle East expert, told DW that the risk of escalation depends on whether Israel decides to hit back in a manner that Iran would consider "existential." "Iran made it clear... whatever Israel does to Iran, Iran would answer," she said.

According to Helberg, Iran's weekend attack showed that Tehran is ready to move from the role of masterminding attacks on Israel through its proxies in the region to becoming a direct participant in the war. 

Iran's military drone program: Growing threat over decades

She said that Iran had to retaliate for the April 1 attack on the Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus, and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei made it clear that he considered the attack to be an attack on Iranian territory.

However, the Iranian attack on Israel saw limited participation by Hezbollah and Houthis, and it was meant to show that a response was possible without Iran actually escalating the situation into a full-blown war, according to the expert.

"The whole message is here: We have a massive response but it's under control," Helberg said, adding that Tehran is not interested in a full-blown war with Israel and the US.

"I think Netanyahu will be wiser to go also for a diplomatic responce and listen very carefully to what his US partner is telling him," Helberg said.

Skip next section Germany's Scholz says steps must be taken to 'contribute to de-escalation'
April 15, 2024

Germany's Scholz says steps must be taken to 'contribute to de-escalation'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday said that Israel had managed to defend itself from Iran's missile attack and that efforts now needed to be made to de-escalate the situation.

"Everyone agrees that the way in which Israel managed to successfully repel this attack... is really impressive," Scholz said in Shanghai during a three-day visit to China.

"That is a success that should not be given away, and therefore our advice is to contribute to de-escalation," Scholz said.

Also speaking on Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Israel's successful defensive efforts needed to be backed up with diplomatic measures to prevent an escalation.

"Israel has won defensively thanks to its strong air defence and the efforts of the US, Britain, and Arabic states," Baerbock told a news conference in Paris.

"Now we must prevent an escalation in the region," Baerbock said, adding she had spoken to Iran's foreign minister on Sunday and clearly warned him about further escalation.

Skip next section Schools reopen in Israel after Iran attack
April 15, 2024

Schools reopen in Israel after Iran attack

Schools reopened across Israel on Monday, the Israel Defense Forces announced, lifting a series of restrictions of public activities that were imposed ahead of Sunday's Iran's missile strike. 

After a "situational assessment," the military said in a statement, "it was decided to restore educational activities across Israel."

"In the areas of the northern border (with Lebanon) and communities near the Gaza Strip, educational activities will resume... with restrictions," the statement continued, adding that restrictions on large gatherings would also be lifted in most places.

The Iranian attack on Israel, which sparked fears of an all-out war between Israel and Iran, resulted in no deaths. 

Skip next section Airports in Iran resume operations after attack on Israel — reports
April 15, 2024

Airports in Iran resume operations after attack on Israel — reports

Iranian state media has reported the reopening of airports in Tehran and elsewhere on Monday followingIran's drone and missile attack on Israel. 

Flights had been suspended following Saturday's first direct attack on Israeli territory, which came as a response to an attack on Iran's consulate in Syria that Tehran blamed Israel for carrying out.

The IRNA news agency reported that "flights at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran were back to normal as of 6:00 am (0230 GMT)." Other airports across the country were also reported to be in operation.

The Iranian attack led to fears of possible Israeli retaliatory strikes with airlines suspending operations in the region.

Neighboring countries Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon also temporarily closed their airspace. 

Iran attack 'unprecedented,' Israel response to be muted: analyst

Skip next section Joe Biden and Jordanian King Abdullah discuss Middle East situation
April 15, 2024

Joe Biden and Jordanian King Abdullah discuss Middle East situation

US President Joe Biden and Jordan's King Abdullah II have spoken about the current situation in the Middle East, the White House said in a statement.

Biden "strongly condemned" the drone and missile attack launched by Iran on Saturday, which the US president said "also threatened Jordan and the Jordanian people."

The White House said that both leaders would "continue to monitor the situation and will remain in close touch over the coming days."

The situation in Gaza was also discussed and the leaders "reaffirmed their cooperation to increase critical humanitarian assistance to Gaza," while also seeking a way of ending the crisis as soon as possible.

While it is officially not known which of Israel's neighbors participated in the shooting down of the wave of missiles fired by Iran on Israel, one such country appeared to be Jordan.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television at the weekend.

Skip next section Israel mulls response to Iran's attack as world leaders caution against escalation
April 15, 2024

Israel mulls response to Iran's attack as world leaders caution against escalation

As Israel considers the next step following the weekend's drone and missile attack by Iran, world leaders are cautioning against an escalation.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said his country would do all it can to avoid further escalation.

"We are all worried about a possible escalation," Macron told BFM TV and RMC radio in an interview.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron called on Israel not to retaliate, framing Iran's attack as a "almost a total failure."

"If you're sitting in Israel this morning, you're thinking quite rightly, we have every right to respond to this and they do. But we are urging that they shouldn't escalate," Cameron told British broadcaster Sky News on Monday.

"In many ways this has been a double defeat for Iran. The attack was an almost total failure, and they revealed to the world that they are the malign influence in the region prepared to do this. So our hope is that there won't be a retaliatory response."

Saturday saw Iran launch hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel in response to a suspected Israeli attack on Iran's consulate in Syria on April 1, in which two Iranian generals were killed.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday said it, along with international partners, had intercepted 99% of the over 300 drones and missiles launched.

Guterres: 'It's time to step back from the brink'

kb/rm (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)