NewsIsrael hails 'success' in blocking Iran's unprecedented attack. Biden now seeks diplomatic...

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack. Biden now seeks diplomatic response

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel on Sunday hailed its successful air defenses in the face of an unprecedented attack by Iran, saying it and its allies thwarted 99% of the more than 300 drones and missiles launched toward its territory. But regional tensions remain high, amid fears of further escalation in the event of a possible Israeli counter-strike.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he would convene a meeting of the Group of Seven advanced democracies on Sunday “to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.” The language indicated that the Biden administration does not want to spiral into a broader military conflict. A top U.S. official said the U.S. had informed Israel it does not plan on striking Iran itself.

Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel on an Iranian consular building in Syria earlier this month which killed two Iranian generals. Israel said Iran launched 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over and Israel reopened its air space.

The two foes have for years been engaged in a shadow war marked by incidents like the Damascus strike. But Sunday’s assault, which set off air raid sirens across Israel, was 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 has over the years established – often with the help of the United States — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already bogged down in its war against Hamas in Gaza and engaged in low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

Israeli and U.S. officials lauded the response to the aerial assault.

“Iran launched more than 300 threats and 99% were intercepted,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman. “That is a success.” Asked if Israel would respond, Hagari said the country would do what was needed to protect its citizens.

Hagari said that none of the drones and cruise missiles reached Israel and that only a few of the ballistic missiles got through. He said that of the cruise missiles, 25 were shot down by the Israeli air force.

Hagari said minor damage was caused to an Israeli airbase, but he said it was still functioning. Rescuers said a 7-year-old girl was seriously wounded in southern Israel, apparently in a missile strike, though they said police were still investigating the circumstances of her injuries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a short message on X,

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