EU To Begin Work On Expanding Sanctions Against Iran As Israeli War Cabinet Meets Again


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised victory after a massive overnight air attack by Iran that marked a sharp escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, while an influential member of his war cabinet said the country will retaliate in the “fashion and time” of its choosing.

“We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Netanyahu wrote in an April 14 post on X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, centrist politician and retired General Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet and former defense minister, said that “we will build a regional coalition and exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us.”

Israel and its allies intercepted the “vast majority” of hundreds of drones and missiles launched by Iran overnight.

Loud explosions and flashes of light could be seen in the sky above many parts of Israel in the early morning hours of April 14 as the country’s air defenses tried to shoot down incoming drones and missiles that Iran launched just hours after it seized an Israeli-linked ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

Israeli authorities reported only light damage to one Israeli military installation and said a 7-year-old girl was critically injured as more than 200 drones and missiles — including more than 10 cruise missiles — were intercepted before impact.

“The Iranian attack was foiled,” Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said early on April 14, adding that “99 percent” of the attacking vehicles had been intercepted. Hagari said the result was “a very significant strategic success.”

U.S., British, and French officials confirmed their armed forces took part in shooting down the incoming projectiles, intercepting some over the Iraq-Syria border area as they made their way toward Israel.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned Israel against “reckless behavior” following the strike, saying Tehran’s response to retaliation would be “decisive and much stronger.”

Iran’s military earlier said its strikes had “achieved all its objectives” and been “completed successfully.”

Iranian armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri, speaking on state television, warned Israel not to retaliate, saying Tehran’s “response will be much larger than tonight’s military action.” He also said U.S. assets would be targeted if Washington assisted Israeli in any retaliation.

“Our operations are over and we have no intention to continue them,” Bagheri said.

The United States had contact with Iran through Swiss intermediaries both before and after Tehran’s mass drone and missile attack on Israeli territory overnight, a senior Biden administration official said on April 14.

The official declined to provide details on the contact, saying only that Washington and Iran had “a series of direct communications through the Swiss channel.”

Asked about comments by Iran’s foreign minister that Tehran had given regional countries 72 hours’ notice of the attacks, the official said that was not true. “They did not give a notification,” the official said.

Iran informed Turkey in advance of its planned operation against Israel, a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters on April 14, adding that Washington conveyed to Iran via Ankara that its operation must be “within certain limits.”

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran’s regional allies were informed about its aerial attacks on Israel in advance.

“We naturally informed our friends in regional countries 72 hours before the operation that Iran’s response in the form of a legitimate defense is definite and certain,” he said without specifying which regional allies.

Israel called on the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency session in New York on April 14 to discuss the attack, which Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan described in a post on X as “a serious threat to global peace and security.”

U.S. President Joe Biden on April 14 convened G7 allies to discuss the situation in the Middle East and coordinate a response, with the group reiterating support for Israel.

Biden also spoke by telephone with Netanyahu, after which he said he had reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment” to Israeli security but said U.S. forces would not participate in any offensive actions by Tel Aviv.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC TV on April 14 that “We don’t want to see this escalate…. We’re not looking for a wider war with Iran.”

Other Western countries also condemned the attack, with France warning that Iran “is risking a potential military escalation.” Britain described the attack as “reckless,” while Germany called on Iran to “stop it immediately.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on X that the attack was “blatant and unjustifiable.”

“I call on Iran and its proxies to immediately cease these attacks,” she added. “All actors must now refrain from further escalation and work to restore stability in the region.”

EU foreign ministers will meet on April 16 to discuss the escalation in tensions in the Middle East following the strike, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

“Following the Iranian attacks against Israel, I have called an extraordinary…meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers[on April 16],” Borrell wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Our objective is to contribute to de-escalation and security of the region.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on April 14 meanwhile summoned the ambassadors of Britain, France, and Germany to question what it referred to as their “irresponsible stance” regarding Tehran’s strikes on Israel, the semiofficial Iranian Labour News Agency reported.

Tehran accused the three countries of “double standards” as they opposed earlier this month a Russian-drafted UN Security Council statement that would have condemned Israel’s attack on Iran’s embassy compound.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on all sides to show restraint. “We are counting on the regional states to solve existing problems with political and diplomatic means,” it said.

Turkey does not want further escalation of tension in the region after Iran’s drone and missile attack against Israel, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told his Iranian counterpart in a phone call on April 14.

Pope Francis, speaking to pilgrims on St. Peter’s Square in Rome, made a “heartfelt appeal for a halt to any action that could fuel a spiral of violence” that could lead to a wider conflict.

Israel said early on April 14 that it had reopened its airspace for commercial traffic and that airports had resumed operations.

The intelligence directorate of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on April 14 warned citizens against posting pro-Israeli sentiments on social media, Iranian state media reported.

Israel and Iran have been bitter enemies for decades, but this was the first direct attack by one on the other’s soil instead of through proxy forces or by targeting each other’s assets in third countries.

“So far, we’ve intercepted the vast majority of incoming missiles,” Hagari said of the attack launched by the IRGC in what it said was retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike thought to be carried out by Israel on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria.

The launch came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over the continuing war in the Gaza Strip and the strike in Syria.

Iran called the attack, which Tehran named operation “Honest Response,” on Israel a “response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus.”

However, Iran also appeared to be taking a cautious approach to keep the strikes from broadening conflict in the region, with its mission to the United Nations saying that “the matter can be deemed concluded.”

The Iranian attack was immediately condemned by many governments around the world, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation.”

“The Middle East is on the brink… Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate,” Guterres told a Security Council meeting called on April 14.

Earlier on April 13, Iranian state media reported that IRGC forces seized a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz, claiming the vessel was “linked to Israel.”

Following that event, Israel said it was putting its military on high alert and canceling school activities on concerns of a possible attack.

It accused Iran of piracy and said Tehran will “bear the consequences” of escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The MSC Aries, a Portuguese-flagged vessel that is reportedly operated by a shipping company partially owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, was seized on April 13 and was being transferred to Iranian territorial waters, according to the IRNA state news agency.

The ship’s operator, the Italian-Swiss group MSC, said the ship had 25 crew members on board and that it was working closely with “the relevant authorities to ensure their well-being and safe return of the vessel.”

Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza was sparked by a raid on Israeli territory carried out by Hamas, which rules Gaza and is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union, on October 7. The raid left 1,200 people dead and hundreds of people were taken hostage.

The ensuing Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip aimed at destroying Hamas has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian territory’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Since the war began, Tehran has openly supported militant groups and proxies targeting Israel that are part of Iran’s “axis of resistance” against Israel and the West, leading to concerns of a broader Middle East conflict involving archenemies Iran and Israel.

The security firm Ambrey said late on April 13 that Yemen’s Huthi rebels had also launched multiple drones at Israel in coordination with Iran.

In addition to strikes launched against Israel by Iranian proxy Lebanese Hizballah, the Iranian-backed Huthis have attacked Israeli territory as well as international and Israeli shipping in the Red Sea.

On April 14, Israeli forces hit a Hizballah site in Lebanon near the Syrian border, the Israeli military said.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, AP, and Reuters


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