Iran’s attack on Israel: 99% of Iran drones, missiles launched were intercepted by Israel, and allies

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TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel praised the success of its defenses in the face of an unprecedented attack by Iran involving hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles while tensions ran high over a possible Israeli counter-strike.

An Israeli military spokesman said Sunday the launches numbered more than 300, but 99% of them were intercepted. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Iran fired 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles. Several ballistic missiles reached Israeli territory, causing minor damage to an air base.

The Iranian attack on Saturday, less than two weeks after a suspected Israeli strike in Syria that killed two Iranian generals in an Iranian consular building, marked the first time Iran has launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s six-month war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The war erupted after Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two militant groups backed by Iran, carried out a devastating cross-border attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others.

An Israeli offensive in Gaza has caused widespread devastation and killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Israel’s response could restore faith in its military

Israel was able to successfully put to the test its aerial defense array, which, along with help from allies prevented major damage.

By contrast, Israel’s military had suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of a far less equipped enemy when Hamas stormed from Gaza into Israel on Oct. 7.

That was a major blow to Israel’s image as a regional military powerhouse and shattered any sense of invincibility. The response to Iran’s attack could be what restores faith in the country’s military, even as its forces are bogged down in Gaza, more than six months after Israel declared war on Hamas there.

Israel has also boasted about the coalition of forces that helped it repel the Iranian assault. It’s a much-needed show of support at a time when Israel is at its most isolated because of concerns surrounding its conduct during the war against Hamas, including a worsening humanitarian crisis and a staggering death toll in Gaza.

The United States stood by Israel

The U.S. was a key player in repelling the assault, demonstrating to its allies around the world the power and reliability of American support.

Now, as Israel mulls how and whether to respond, that alliance will be put to the test, with the Biden administration seeking to exert its leverage on Israel and prevent it from carrying out a response that might worsen the conflict.

An Israeli military spokesman said Sunday the launches numbered more than 300, but 99% of them were intercepted. The U.S. was a key player in repelling the assault.

Iran shows off its might

Iran vowed repeatedly that it would respond to an apparent Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus on April 1 that killed two generals. Sunday’s assault allowed Iran to show to its citizens that it won’t stand by when its assets are attacked and that it was serious when it threatened revenge.

With its strike, Iran was able to exhibit its fierce firepower, instill fear in some Israelis and disrupt the lives of many through school cancellations. But with little damage actually caused in Israel, Iran might hope that any response will be measured. Several hours after it launched the drones and missiles, Iran said the operation was over.

Hamas may benefit from Iran’s direct involvement

Hamas, which is backed by Iran, welcomed the strike on Israel. Since launching its Oct. 7 attack, Hamas had hoped that regional partners might come to its assistance and drag Israel into a broader war. While some have done – including the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthis – Iran had not directly entered the fray until Sunday.

Hamas could hope that the attack is the first salvo in deeper Iranian engagement in the war in Gaza. It also could hope that violence in the West Bank, where an Israeli teen was killed and settlers rampaged in Palestinian towns, continues to heat up. At the very least, Iran’s attack may have emboldened Hamas to dig in its heels in current negotiations over a cease-fire, hoping the increased military pressure on Israel might lead it to accept the militant group’s harder-line terms for a deal.

Copyright © 2024 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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