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Iran's attack on Israel: UN warns region 'on the brink'

Published April 13, 2024last updated April 15, 2024

The UN Security Council has held an emergency meeting after Iran's aerial attack on Israel. Israel called for sanctions and a firm response. Iran claimed its actions were "necessary" self-defense. DW has the latest.

A general view shows the United Nations Security Council during an emergency meeting at U.N. headquarters, Sunday, April 14, 2024.
The UN session was designed as a first response where ambassadors could comment, there was no vote or draft resolution involved at the end of the sessionImage: Yuki Iwamura/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The UN Security Council held an emergency session after Iran's attack, with Antonio Guterres warning the region was "on the brink" 
  • Israel convened its War Cabinet to discuss next steps as the country remained on high alert
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Iran's "unjustifiable" attack on Israel was a serious escalation of the situation
  • Hundreds of people gathered in Berlin to show their solidarity with Israel
Skip next section Live updates concluding for now
April 15, 2024

Live updates concluding for now

Sunday's Security Council meeting was not considering any draft resolution or motion, it was a first call to discuss the situation, starting roughly 24 hours after Iran's attack was launched. It adjourned once all named speakers had contributed.  

Ambassadors from various other UN members — including Russia, China, South Korea, Sierra Leone, Syria, the UK, France, Algeria and more — all contributed to the meeting in New York late on Sunday. 

This concludes our weekend updates on Iran's aerial attack against Israel. 

Israel fends off Iranian drone and missile attack

Skip next section Iranian ambassador claims Tehran had 'no choice'
April 15, 2024

Iranian ambassador claims Tehran had 'no choice'

Iran's ambassador repeated Tehran's claim that it was responding in "self-defense" after the April 1 explosion at its Damascus consulate in Syria, for which Iran blamed Israel. 

"The Security Council... failed in its duty to maintain international peace and security," after that explosion, Amir Saeid Iravani said during Sunday's session. 

Therefore, he said the Islamic Republic "had no choice" but to react, and described the reaction as "necessary and proportionate." 

He claimed his country did not "seek escalation or war," but also warned it would respond to any "threat or aggression." 

"If the US initiates military operations against Iran, its citizens, or its security and interests, Iran will use its inherent right to respond proportionately," he said.

Skip next section Iran must 'pay a heavy price,' Israeli ambassador tells Security Council
April 15, 2024

Iran must 'pay a heavy price,' Israeli ambassador tells Security Council

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, accused Iran of violating international law with the attack.

Erdan called on the 15-member council to condemn Iran, reimpose sanctions and designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terror organization.

"The snooze button is no longer an option. The only option is to condemn Iran and utilize every means necessary to make them pay a heavy price for their horrible  crimes," Erdan told the council.

Erdan also played a video on a tablet that he said showed Israel's interception of Iranian drones above Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of Islam's holiest sites.

"Here, you can look at it," he gestured with the tablet and told the Iranian ambassador to cast his eyes over the footage.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan shows a video of Iranian missiles flying over Al-Aqsa Mosque while he addresses the United Nations Security Council during an emergency meeting at U.N. headquarters, Sunday, April 14, 2024.
Erdan urged members, including Iran, to look at footage of projectiles being intercepted near one of Islam's holiest sitesImage: Yuki Iwamura/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section US calls on UN Security Council to condemn Iran attack
April 15, 2024

US calls on UN Security Council to condemn Iran attack

The United States' deputy ambassador to the United Nations urged the Security Council to condemn Iran's attack during Sunday's session.

"In the coming days, and in consultation with other member states, the United States will explore additional measures to hold Iran accountable here at the United Nations," Robert Wood said.

He also warned against further provocations, including from groups outside Iran supported by Tehran. 

"Let me be clear: If Iran or its proxies take actions against the United States or further action against Israel, Iran will be held responsible," Wood said.

Skip next section Middle East 'on the brink,' UN chief Guterres says
April 14, 2024

Middle East 'on the brink,' UN chief Guterres says

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a plea for "maximum restraint following" Iran's attacks against Israel.

A UN Security Council emergency meeting convened at 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT/UTC) in New York, after Israel's ambassador to the UN appealed for a rapid condemnation of Iran's attack overnight. 

"The Middle East is on the brink. The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate," Gutteres said while opening the session. 

"Neither the region nor the world can afford more war," Guterres said.

He also warned all UN members that any retaliation with force would be illegal under international law.

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

Skip next section White House says US would not join attack on Iran
April 14, 2024

White House says US would not join attack on Iran

The White House has ruled out any participation by the US in a possible Israeli retaliation against Iran.

"We're not looking for a wider war with Iran," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on NBC's "Meet the Press," adding that the United States does not "want to see this escalate."

According to a White House official, US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "think carefully" about his response.

Kirby said Netanyahu was "well aware" of Biden's position following a call between the two leaders soon after Iran launched the attack.

US forces said they shot down some 70 drones and between four and six ballistic missiles during Iran's overnight attack.

Skip next section Germany's Baerbock calls to extend sanctions against Iran
April 14, 2024

Germany's Baerbock calls to extend sanctions against Iran

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday that she was pushing to impose further sanctions on Iran following its attack on Israel.

"We have already introduced drone-related sanctions in Brussels with regard to Russia," Baerbock said in an interview on German public channel ARD.

"I am intensively advocating for their extension with regard to Iran, since we have seen how dangerously it has acted," she said.

Demonstrators rally in Berlin after Iran attack on Israel

Earlier Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Brussels was looking to discuss further sanctions against Iran over its drone and missile program.

The bloc introduced sanctions in December in response to Iran producing drones that Russia has used in its war in Ukraine.

Iran's military drone program: Growing threat over decades

Skip next section G7 demands Iran, proxies cease attacks
April 14, 2024

G7 demands Iran, proxies cease attacks

The Group of Seven industrialized nations (G7) jointly condemned Iran's "unprecedented" attack on Israel on Sunday afternoon.

"With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation. This must be avoided," the G7 said in a statement issued by Italy.

"We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation. In this spirit, we demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives," the statement said.

European Council chief Charles Michel, who attended the meeting, said a cease-fire in Gaza would help deescalate tensions between Iran and Israel.

"All parties must exercise restraint. We will continue all our efforts to work towards deescalation," said Michel.

"Ending the crisis in Gaza as soon as possible, notably through an immediate cease-fire, will make a difference."

Michel also said the European Council would discuss the issue next week.

Skip next section Iran informed US of Israel attack, Tehran claims
April 14, 2024

Iran informed US of Israel attack, Tehran claims

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran had provided advance notice about the attacks on Israel to the US as well as other countries in the region.

"Early Sunday in a message to the White House we announced that our operation would be limited and minimalistic and aimed at legitimate defense and punishing the Israeli regime," Amirabdollahian said at a press conference.

The White House did not immediately comment on the claims.

Amirabdollahian also said Iran had informed neighboring Middle Eastern countries about the plan to attack Israel "72 hours before the operation."

"We announced to our brothers and friends in the region, including the countries hosting American military bases, that our objective was only to punish the Israeli regime," Amirabdollahian said.

"We are not seeking to target the American people or American bases in the region," he added, but warned Iran could target US military positions that are involved in "defending and supporting" Israel.

Skip next section Hundreds rally in Berlin to show solidarity with Israel
April 14, 2024

Hundreds rally in Berlin to show solidarity with Israel

Volker Beck speaking outside the Brandenburg Gate
The snap demonstration was called by the German-Israeli SocietyImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

Hundreds of people gathered at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Sunday to show solidarity with Israel following the Iranian attack.

Police said around 500 people showed up to the event, which concluded peacefully.

Protesters held signs that read "Hands off Israel," among other slogans. Some waved Israeli flags or the flag of Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The rally was organized by the German-Israeli Society, an independent group that is supported by the German Foreign Office.

"This step of attacking Israel was an unprecedented escalation on the part of Iran," said Volker Beck, the group's head.

A sign that reads: "Hands off Israel!"
Police said around 500 people attended the rallyImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS
Skip next section Gantz: Israel will exact price from Iran when time is right
April 14, 2024

Gantz: Israel will exact price from Iran when time is right

Israelwill exact a price from Iran in response to Saturday's attack when the time is right, said a key member of Israel's War Cabinet, Benny Gantz.

"Iran is a global problem, a regional challenge and also a threat to Israel," he said in a statement.

Through its alliances with the West, Gantz said Israel had proven, "that it is an anchor of military and technological strength and an anchor of security in the Middle East." 

"We will build a regional coalition and exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us," Gantz added.

Israel's War Cabinet met on Sunday afternoon to discuss how to proceed following the Iranian attack. Israel's military said the Iranian assault had been successfully repelled with support from the United States, Britain, France and Jordan.

Gantz later thanked German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock for the country's support, after speaking with her by phone. 

"We discussed first and foremost the imperative of forming a global united front to counter emboldened Iranian aggression directly and through its proxies — regionally and globally," Gantz wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Skip next section Scholz decries Iran's 'unjustifiable' attack on Israel
April 14, 2024

Scholz decries Iran's 'unjustifiable' attack on Israel

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Chongqing during a trip to China on April 14, 2024
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is currently on a visit to China amid the crisis between Israel and IranImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has hit out at Iran for what he called its "absolutely unjustifiable attack" on Israel.

Speaking from Chongqing during an official visit to China, Scholz described Tehran's actions as a "serious escalation of the situation."

"Things must not continue in this way," he continued. "We will do everything we can to avoid further escalation."

"All we can do is warn everyone, especially Iran, against continuing like this," he said.

Germany's Scholz: 'We strongly condemn the Iranian attack'

Scholz reiterated Germany's solidarity with Israel, which he said had every right to defend itself since the terror attacks by Hamas on October 7. 

He announced a meeting of cabinet ministers responsible for security, including Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Scholz is also due to participate in a videoconference of G7 leaders later on Sunday.

Scholz's visit to China has been overshadowed by the Iranian attack on Israel. The China visit was supposed to focus primarily on on boosting trade ties between Germany and China, and to address differences between Berlin and Beijing regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Skip next section Zelenskyy says Iranian drones threaten Israel and Ukraine
April 14, 2024

Zelenskyy says Iranian drones threaten Israel and Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday condemned Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel, comparing the potential fallout to Russia's invasion of his own country.

"Iran's actions threaten the entire region and the world, just as Russia's actions threaten a larger conflict, and the obvious collaboration between the two regimes in spreading terror must face a resolute and united response from the world," he wrote on social media.

Zelenskyy noted that Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones were also used by Russia to attack Ukraine.

"We in Ukraine know very well the horror of similar attacks by Russia, which uses the same Shahed drones and Russian missiles, the same tactics of mass airstrikes," he added.

Ukraine says Russia uses Iranian-made drones

Skip next section IDF spokesman: Israel must ready 'vast range of scenarios' after Iran attack
April 14, 2024

IDF spokesman: Israel must ready 'vast range of scenarios' after Iran attack

A "vast range of scenarios" will be considered by the government of Israel as it decides its response to Saturday night's unprecedented, direct attack by Iran, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told DW on Sunday.

"The government is going to convene later today. They will come to their decisions and the IDF will implement the instructions that we receive. We have to be prepared for a vast range of scenarios," said Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, noting how Israel was surrounded by Iran-backed militant groups.

Asked how Israel can prevent a wider regional escalation, Lerner insisted his country's posture was currently "defensive."

IDF spokesman: 'There was a clear possibility of danger'

"I would say that we have to maintain that posture. But we will preempt attacks against us. Currently, the negotiations are the main road to try and change the situation on the ground. But if that fails, then the IDF is also preparing for military action if required and if instructed by the government. We need to be prepared for that eventuality.”

Noting that 99% of the missiles and drones sent by Iran were intercepted by Israel and its allies, Lerner said some ballistic missiles did get through and cause damage at an air force base.

"These ballistic missiles have a warhead of 100 to 120 kilos each. There was a very clear possibility of danger with 120 of these ballistic missiles that were fired at us," the IDF spokesman said.

Asked what had been revealed about Iran's intentions by the direct attack on Israel, Lerner said:

"We know that Iran is the puppet master of everything evil in this region […] This event put them right front and center as they continued their offensive, their aggression against Israel — a reality that is unacceptable."

Skip next section Iran summons European ambassadors over 'irresponsible stances'
April 14, 2024

Iran summons European ambassadors over 'irresponsible stances'

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it was calling in the ambassadors of Germany, the UK and France, saying their countries had taken "irresponsible stances" regarding Tehran's overnight attack on Israel.

All three countries have condemned the attack, while the UK and France played active roles alongside Israel and the US in defending Israel against the barrage of missiles and drones fired at it.

Iran has said its operation was in retaliation for a strike — which it blames on Israel — that hit an Iranian consular building in Damascus earlier this month.

Two Iranian generals were among those killed in the strike.

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