As diplomats visit, Israel signals it will answer Iran’s attack

Netanyahu thanked Israel’s allies saying, 'They also have all kinds of suggestions and advice, I appreciate it, but I want to make it clear — we will make our own decisions.'
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 14:49 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 14:49 IST

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The top diplomats from Britain and Germany visited Jerusalem on Wednesday in a bid to calm tensions in the Middle East, as Israel signaled it would not let Iran’s large aerial attack over the weekend go unanswered.

David Cameron, the British foreign secretary, and Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said afterward that Israel would “do everything necessary to defend itself.”

Netanyahu thanked Israel’s allies for their “support in words and support in actions” in remarks before a Cabinet meeting, according to his office. But, he added: “They also have all kinds of suggestions and advice, I appreciate it, but I want to make it clear — we will make our own decisions.”

Cameron pressed for restraint while indicating that Israeli officials appear determined to take action after Iran’s missile and drone assault, believed to be the first time in the two countries’ decadeslong shadow war that Iran had taken aim directly at Israeli territory.

“It is clear that the Israelis are making a decision to act,” Cameron told the BBC. “We hope that they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible.”

Israel’s war Cabinet has met several times since the weekend with no apparent decision on when and how to strike back. Officials are said to be considering a range of options, from a direct strike on Iran to a cyberattack or targeted assassinations, trying to send a clear message to Iran while not sparking a major escalation.

“Israel will respond when it sees fit,” an Israeli official said Wednesday, adding that it had “multiple ways” to do so. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday night, almost all of which were intercepted by Israel’s air defenses, supported by the United States, Britain, France and Jordan. Israel’s allies have condemned the assault while urging a response that does not further raise tensions with Iran.

Cameron said that the Group of 7 nations, which includes the United States as well as Britain and Germany, should work together to penalize Iran with sanctions. US and European officials said separately Tuesday that they were considering placing additional sanctions on Iran that could target its oil revenue and weapons programs.

Before the meetings Wednesday, Baerbock said Iran’s actions had “led an entire region to the brink of the abyss.”

“The aim now is to stop Iran without further escalation,” she said in a post on social media Tuesday. “Iran’s plan to sow further violence must not work.”

Both ministers said they were also visiting to press for a humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and call attention to the continued captivity of the hostages held there. Iran’s attack has shifted international focus away from the six-month conflict.

Published 17 April 2024, 14:49 IST

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