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Photo said to depict Iranian drone in flight

Israeli Ground Forces Intercept Iranian Drones, Missiles

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Barrages of drones and missiles launched by Iran in an unprecedented, large-scale attack on Israel began entering Israeli airspace, triggering air-raid sirens across the country as its air defenses appeared to destroy the incoming projectiles before any impacts on the ground.

Loud explosions and flashes of light could be seen in the sky above Jerusalem around 2 a.m. (2300 GMT/UTC) on April 14.

Israel’s Magen David ambulance service said it had received no reports of any casualties from the incoming drones and missiles that Iran launched just hours after Tehran seized an Israeli-linked ship in the Strait of Hormuz, stoking fears off a widespread Middle East conflict.

American and British media reported their armed forces had already intercepted some of the drones and missiles over the Iraq-Syria border area as they made their way to Israel.

READ MORE: Inside Iran’s ‘Axis of Resistance’ Against Israel

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said his country’s forces were prepared to handle the drone attack launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike thought to be carried out by Israel on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria.

The launch comes 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 Promise, 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.”

World Condemns Iranian Attack

The Iranian attack was immediately condemned by many governments around the world.

“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable Iranian attack against Israel. This is an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security,” the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said.

Leaders in Tehran had warned of a retaliatory strike, while U.S. leaders, including President Joe Biden, had warned Iran against any assault on Israel, saying Washington’s support for Israel was “ironclad.”

Biden, according to U.S. officials, was meeting with his National Security Council to discuss the issue.

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 an Israeli billionaire, was being transferred to Iranian territorial waters, according to the IRNA state news agency.

The ship’s operator, the Italian-Swiss group MSC, later confirmed that Iranian authorities had boarded the vessel.

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.”

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations earlier said that the ship was seized in the Gulf of Oman close to the Emirati port city of Fujairah.

Following the seizure of the vessel on April 13, Israeli spokesman Hagari said that “Iran will bear the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”

White House Issues Statement on Hijacked Ship

In a statement, the White House said that Iran must release the ship “immediately.”

“Seizing a civilian vessel without provocation is a blatant violation of international law, and an act of piracy by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz later said that Iran was led by a “criminal regime that supports Hamas’s crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law.”

“I call on the European Union and the free world to immediately declare the Iranian [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now.”

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.

About Susan Katz Keating

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