Iran Warns Israel against Retaliation, Global Powers Urge Restraint

This picture taken on April 14 ,2024, shows intercepted missiles that fired from Iran towards Israel, as seen over northern Israel. Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed early April 14, 2024 that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike on its Damascus consulate. (AFP)
This picture taken on April 14 ,2024, shows intercepted missiles that fired from Iran towards Israel, as seen over northern Israel. Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed early April 14, 2024 that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike on its Damascus consulate. (AFP)
TT

Iran Warns Israel against Retaliation, Global Powers Urge Restraint

This picture taken on April 14 ,2024, shows intercepted missiles that fired from Iran towards Israel, as seen over northern Israel. Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed early April 14, 2024 that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike on its Damascus consulate. (AFP)
This picture taken on April 14 ,2024, shows intercepted missiles that fired from Iran towards Israel, as seen over northern Israel. Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed early April 14, 2024 that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike on its Damascus consulate. (AFP)

Iran warned Israel and the United States on Sunday of a "much larger response" if there is any retaliation for its mass drone and missile attack on Israeli territory overnight, as Israel said "the campaign is not over yet".

The threat of open warfare erupting between the arch Middle East foes and dragging in the United States has put the region on edge as Washington said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to protect its forces and Israel.

Iran launched the attack over a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria on April 1 that killed top Revolutionary Guards commanders and followed months of clashes between Israel and Iran's regional allies, triggered by the war in Gaza.

However, the attack from hundreds of missiles and drones, mostly launched from inside Iran, caused only modest damage in Israel as most were shot down with the help of the US, Britain and Jordan.

An Air Force base in southern Israel was hit, but continued to operate as normal and a 7-year-old child was seriously hurt by shrapnel. There were no other reports of serious damage.

Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran had informed the United States its attack on Israel would be "limited" and for self defense.

"We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on social media ahead of a planned 1230 GMT meeting of the war cabinet to discuss a response to the attack.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said despite thwarting the attack, the military campaign was not over and "we must be prepared for every scenario".

Israel's Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official overnight as saying there would be a "significant response" to the attack.

Global powers Russia, China and France, as well as Arab states Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates urged restraint.

Tehran's mission to the United Nations said its actions were aimed at punishing "Israeli crimes", but that it now "deemed the matter concluded".

Iranian army chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri warned on television that "our response will be much larger than tonight's military action if Israel retaliates against Iran" and told Washington its bases could also be attacked if it helped Israel retaliate.

US President Joe Biden has pledged "ironclad" support for Israel against Iran, but did not announce any military response on Saturday night, saying instead he would coordinate a diplomatic response with other Western leaders.

American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect US forces and support the defense of Israel.

The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday.

ESCALATION

Analysts debated how far Iran's attack was calibrated to cause genuine devastation in Israel, or to save face at home after vows of revenge while avoiding a major new war.

"I think the Iranians took into consideration the fact that Israel has a very, very strong multi-layer anti-missile system and they probably took into consideration that there will not be too many casualties," said Sima Shine, a former senior Mossad official at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

But if Iran was hoping for a muted response, like with its missile attacks on US forces in Iraq after the killing of Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in 2020, she warned "I don't think Israel sees it this way".

On Saturday Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized an Israel-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most important energy shipping routes, underscoring the risks to the world economy of a wider conflict.

Some flights were suspended in countries across the region and share prices fell in stock markets in Israel.

The war in Gaza, which Israel invaded after an attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Oct. 7, has spread to fronts with Iran-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Iran's most powerful ally in the region, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah fired rockets at an Israeli base overnight. Israel said it struck a Hezbollah site deep inside Lebanon on Sunday morning.

The Oct. 7 attack in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and 253 taken hostage, along with internal discontent with the government and international pressure over the war in Gaza, form the backdrop to Netanyahu's decisions over a response.

The Israeli prime minister has for years advocated a tough military line against Iran, pushing the United States for harder action over Tehran's nuclear program and its backing for Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups in the region.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, Israelis described their fear during the attack, when sirens wailed and the night sky was shaken by blasts, but differed on how the country should respond.

"I think we've been given license to respond now. I mean it was a major attack from Iran... I imagine Israel will respond and may be over quickly and get back to normal life," said Jeremy Smith, 60.

In Iran, state television showed small gatherings in several cities celebrating the attack, but in private some Iranians were worried about Israel's response.

"Iran gave Netanyahu a golden opportunity to attack our country. But we, the people of Iran, will bear the brunt of this conflict," said Shima, a 29-year-old nurse, from Tehran.

In Gaza, devastated by six months of Israel's air and ground campaign, there was jubilation among many Palestinians at Iran's attack. "We have been slaughtered for over six months and no one dared to do anything. Now Iran, after its consulate was hit, is hitting back," said Majed Abu Hamza, 52, from Gaza City.



Putin Warns West Not to Let Ukraine Use Its Missiles to Hit Russia

 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
TT

Putin Warns West Not to Let Ukraine Use Its Missiles to Hit Russia

 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Tuesday that NATO members in Europe were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike inside Russia, which he said could trigger a global conflict.

More than two years into the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two, as the West considers what to do about Russian military advances, Putin is increasingly evoking the risk of a global war, while Western leaders play it down.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Economist that alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, a view supported by some European members of the transatlantic alliance but not the United States.

Russian forces have advanced into Ukraine's Kharkiv province safe in the knowledge that Ukraine cannot attack missile launchers being fired deep inside Russia because it cannot use the Western missiles that have the required range.

Meanwhile, Western-made air defenses cannot attempt to down Russian rockets until they cross the Ukrainian border, only 25 km (15 miles) or so from Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv.

"Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences," Putin told reporters in Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

"If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?"

"It's hard to say - do they want a global conflict?"

Putin said Ukrainian strikes with long-range weapons would need Western satellite, intelligence and military help - so the West would have to be directly involved in such attacks.

He said sending French troops to Ukraine would also be a step towards global conflict and that smaller countries considering deeper involvement "should be aware of what they are playing with" as they had small land areas and dense populations.

"This is a factor that they should keep in mind before talking about striking deep into Russian territory. This is a serious thing, and we are of course watching it very closely," Putin said.

RUSSIAN ADVANCES TRIGGER DEBATE IN WEST

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 touched off the worst breakdown in relations with the West for 60 years.

The invasion has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, driven millions to flee abroad, and reduced neighborhoods and whole cities to rubble.

Putin casts the war as part of a struggle with the West, which he says is exploiting Ukraine as part of a wider plan to encroach on what he considers Moscow's sphere of influence.

The West and Ukraine cast the attack as a simple land grab: Russia controls 18% of Ukraine, and the crisis is now escalating into what diplomats say is its most dangerous phase.

Russian officials say Moscow's patience is wearing thin after Ukrainian attacks on Russian cities, oil refineries and elements of its nuclear early-warning system.

Putin said Kyiv and its Western backers had provoked Russia's offensive on the Kharkiv region by ignoring repeated warnings not to let Ukraine attack the adjacent Russian region of Belgorod.