Israel approves plan of attack after foiling massive Iran onslaught, as world leaders call for 'stabilisation'

14 April 2024, 19:11 | Updated: 14 April 2024, 19:29

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.
The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Israel's war cabinet has approved plans for "offensive and defensive action" after Iran launched 300 drones and missiles into its territory in an unprecedented attack.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said the IDF was "on high alert" and is still "assessing the situation".

The vast majority of the Iranian missiles and drones were shot down, although one girl was critically injured and a military base was lightly damaged.

The US, UK and other allies helped bring down the missiles.

The G7 group of leading countries met on Sunday afternoon and called for the tense situation to be stabilised, while also giving its backing to Israel.

But Mr Hagari said of the war cabinet meeting: "Over the last two hours, we approved operational plans for both offensive and defensive action.

Read more: RAF jets shot down ‘a number’ of Iranian drones attacking Israel, Rishi Sunak says

Read more: Biden reaffirms ‘ironclad support' of Israel as he plans G7 meeting to coordinate ‘diplomatic response to Iran attack’

This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Tel Aviv as Israel's anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran
This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Tel Aviv as Israel's anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran. Picture: Alamy

"We will continue to protect the State of Israel, and together with our partners, we will continue to build a more secure and stable future for the entire Middle East."

He did not give a timescale for the offensive plans, or any more details.

It came after war cabinet minister said ahead of the meeting that Israel would "collect a price" for Iran's strike, which came in response to what Iran claimed was a deadly attack on its embassy in Syria.

Ex-CIA Director warns against Israel responding 'militarily against Iranian targets inside of Iran'

Benny Gantz said: "Yesterday, Iran launched an attack on Israel - and met the strength of the Israeli security system."

He added: "This event is not over - the strategic alliance and the regional cooperation system that we built and stood its significant test need to be strengthened precisely now."

Mr Gantz said: "Faced with the threat of Iran - we will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us."

Jerusalem. 14th Apr, 2024. This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Jerusalem as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran.
Jerusalem. 14th Apr, 2024. This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Jerusalem as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran. Picture: Alamy

The US has urged Israel to restrain itself from retaliating to Iran's attack to avoid escalating the conflict. Tehran has said it would respond to any fightback from Israel.

Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US' "ironclad" support for the defence of Israel, but a national security spokesperson has said it would not take part in any attack on Iran.

"We don't seek escalated tensions in the region. We don't seek a wider conflict," John Kirby said.

The G7 - made up of the US, the UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and the EU - expressed their "full solidarity and support to Israel".

They said in a statement: "We, the Leaders of the G7, unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s direct and unprecedented attack against Israel. Iran fired hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel. Israel, with the help of its partners, defeated the attack.

"We express our full solidarity and support to Israel and its people and reaffirm our commitment towards its security.

"With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation. This must be avoided.

"We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation. In this spirit, we demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives.

"We will also strengthen our cooperation to end the crisis in Gaza, including by continuing to work towards an immediate and sustainable ceasefire and the release of hostages by Hamas, and deliver increased humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need."

The US, UK, France and Jordan all assisted in the response to the attack. The RAF shot down "a number of drones", Rishi Sunak said on Monday.

His Foreign Secretary David Cameron wrote: "Today I formally condemned in the strongest terms Iran's attack on Israel in a call with Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian.

"I made clear that Iran must stop these reckless attacks, de-escalate and release the MSC Aries [an Israel-affilated ship Iran has seized]."

Former UK Ambassador there needs to be a 'process that enables the Iran conflict to come to an end'

Sir Mark Lyall-Grant, a former ambassador to the UN, told LBC's Carol Vorderman that the UK participating was unsurprising because "the British government has always been an ally of Israel.

"So it's not surprising that Britain is standing beside Israel after it was attacked by... the atrocities of the terrorist attack by Hamas on October".

Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz. Picture: Alamy

Air raid sirens were sounded across Israel to warn civilians of the threat from above after the Israel Defense Force (IDF) warned of the incoming assault at 11pm local time (9pm BST).

In an update on Sunday morning, Israeli military spokesman Mr Hagari said that more than 300 weapons had been fired by Iran, 99% of which were intercepted.

He said few of the missiles reached Israel, after Iran fired 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles.

He described the country’s interception mission as “a very significant strategic success” but said the situation is still unfolding and aircraft continue to patrol the skies.

People cross a road in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 14
People cross a road in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 14. Picture: Alamy

“Iran pushed the Middle East towards escalation. We will do whatever is necessary,” he added.

While few of the missiles reached Israel, a seven-year-old girl was critically injured in the south of the country and an army base was lightly damaged.

Additional RAF jets have been moved to the region to bolster Operation Shader, the UK’s counter-Daesh operation in Iraq and Syria, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement on Sunday morning.

The MoD said it will continue to intercept any airborne attacks within its range of existing missions.

Alastair Burt,

Read more: Israel fights off massive Iran attack - downing over 200 missiles and drones with help of RAF

Read more: Explosions in skies and sirens across Jerusalem amid Iranian attack - as Israel warns of 'significant response'

In an update posted to X on Sunday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We intercepted. We blocked. Together we will win.”

Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also said he has carried out an operational situation assessment with officials in Israel’s defence establishment as he warned the situation is "not yet over".

He said: “Together with the United States and additional partners, we managed to defend the territory of the State of Israel. Very little damage was caused – this is the result of the IDF’s impressive operations.

“The campaign is not yet over - we must remain alert and attentive to the instructions published by the IDF and Homefront Command. We must be prepared for every scenario. Having said this, we have thwarted the most significant wave [of the attack], and we did so successfully.”

Speaking to LBC’s Matthew Wright, former foreign office minister Alistair Burt said the UK is "doing everything it can" to reduce tensions in the region.

He said: “The issue is where this goes from here.

“There is still an opportunity, as many countries are saying in their statements, to reduce this tension by saying to both states we can’t really go on like this, sooner or later, tit for tat goes wrong and then you have a real disaster in the region.”

He continued: “The UK is doing everything it can to warn of an increased risk of escalation, but the United Kingdom's support for the existence of the state of Israel is pretty well unquestioned throughout the UK and the political system, as is the case with the United States.

“By having military activity in the area to defend Israel, making a point to Iran about its activities, but it’s not designed to be aggressive or offensive, it’s designed to say to Iran there are consequences to actions - do not go any further. But I would imagine the private messaging to Israel will also be today: your response to this must be extremely careful, if not to escalate the situation still further.”

IDF pilots returning from the interception mission.
IDF pilots returning from the interception mission. Picture: IDF

Read More: British and American jets 'shoot down Iranian drones' as Rishi Sunak slams Iran for 'reckless' attack against Israel

Israel's sophisticated Iron Dome and other defences were seen intercepting drones and missiles - including parts of the disputed West Bank region.

Rockets fired by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon were also fired into northern Israel during the attack.

An IDF spokesperson earlier confirmed that Israelis are no longer required to stay near bomb shelters - as the military gives the all-clear to civilians.

The Israeli army had ordered residents of the Golan Heights in the north and Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat in the south to stay close to a protected space - such as a shelter, stairwell or inner room - until further notice.

This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Jerusalem as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran
Israel's sophisticated Iron Dome and other defences were seen intercepting drones and missiles - including parts of the disputed West Bank region. Picture: Alamy
Missiles seen in skies above Tel Aviv
Missiles seen in skies above Tel Aviv. Picture: Getty

The IDF confirmed that a "small number" of hits were recorded in Israel - including a military base in the south which suffered minor infrastructure damage.

No casualties have been recorded - as most of the weapons were intercepted by Israeli air defences - alongside their air force, and jets from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and US military.

Israel has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to hold a vote on condemning the unprecedented attack.

An Israeli official vowed a "significant response" to the direct attack by Iran, Reuters news agency reported.

Interceptors missiles are launched into the sky early Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)
Interceptors missiles are launched into the sky early Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick). Picture: Alamy

The attack was warned of in recent days since the IDF killed two Iranian generals in an air strike on the regime's consulate in Damascus, Syria on April 1.

The attack was first confirmed on Saturday evening by the IDF - saying that the Shahed drones were expected above Israel "within hours".

The drone attack is the first time Iran had ever launched a full-scale military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

More than 200 killer drones and cruise missiles began entering Israel around 2am local time (midnight BST).

After the confirmation of the incoming attack, Israeli, British and American forces have worked to down the weapons in Jordanian and Syrian airspace.

Reuters news agency also reported a "first wave of ballistic missiles" have also been launched - citing Iranian state news.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a meeting of the war council at the headquarters of the IDF in Tel Aviv.

Iranian media also confirmed at 10pm BST that they have launched "drones and missiles" towards "specific targets" in Israel.

Iran's ally Hezbollah then began firing rockets into northern Israel during the Iranian onslaught - as it has done frequently since the war in Gaza began in October 2023.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has convened his war cabinet in Tel Aviv in response to the attack
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a meeting of the war council at the headquarters of the IDF in Tel Aviv. Picture: IDF

The hostile state's Revolutionary Guard said that the attack dubbed "Operation True Promise" is a "punishment for Israeli crimes".

In a televised address Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared for a "direct attack from Iran" following its threats of retaliation for a deadly air strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1.

He said: "We are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong.

"We appreciate the US standing alongside Israel, as well as the support of Britain, France and many other countries."

The strong warning came after Iran seized a container ship linked to Israel in the Gulf, and as Israel announced it was closing schools nationwide for security reasons.

The Iranian Mission to the United Nations said on X: "Conducted on the strength of Article 51 of the UN Charter pertaining to legitimate defense, Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus.

"The matter can be deemed concluded. However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe.

"It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!"

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong."
Netanyahu said: "We are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong.". Picture: Alamy

Israeli aviation authorities said they were closing the country's airspace to all flights as of 12.30am local time (10.30pm BST).

The attack is the latest escalation in tensions in the Middle East since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel - and will heighten fears of a full-scale regional conflict breaking out.

The Iranian attack has been widely condemned by allies of Israel and other world leaders.

After a meeting with security officials, Joe Biden tweeted: "I just met with my national security team for an update on Iran’s attacks against Israel. Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad."

Biden and Netanyahu are expected to talk on the phone imminently.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I condemn in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel.

"These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard."

“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq. Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilise the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed.”

RAF planes have been confirmed to be involved in the defence of Israel - alongside US and Israeli aircraft.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron added: "Iran's reckless attacks on Israel will only further inflame tensions in the Middle East.

"The UK calls on the Iranian regime to stop this serious escalation, which is in no one’s interest."

Sunak
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I condemn in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel. "These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.". Picture: Alamy

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We condemn the Iranian regime’s decision to subject Israelis to these unacceptable attacks.

“The international community has been united in urging restraint and we regret that yet again Iran has chosen a different, dangerous path.

“Our thoughts are with all those in the region who want peace and security not the fear and instability being generated by Iran.

“We continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of our other partners in the region, including Jordan and Iraq. We support all measures designed to restore calm as we must do all we can to prevent a wider regional war.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: "I strongly condemn the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by Iran.

"I call for an immediate cessation of these hostilities.

"Neither the region nor the world can afford another war."

The IDF posted on X around 11pm local time (9pm BST): "Iran launched UAVs from within its territory toward Israel a short while ago.

"The IDF is on high alert and is constantly monitoring the operational situation.

"The IDF Aerial Defense Array is on high alert, along with IAF fighter jets and Israeli Navy vessels that are on a defense mission in Israeli air and naval space. The IDF is monitoring all targets."

The confirmation comes after the US implemented 'force posture changes' earlier on Saturday, deploying extra military assets near Israel, as it prepared for 'real and credible' threats from Iran.

President Biden rushed back to the White House Situation Room from his holiday home in Delaware to monitor the situation.

He arrived at around 5pm EST (10pm BST).

The White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said earlier: "Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel.

"President Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team and will meet with them this afternoon at the White House.

"His team is in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies. This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours.

"President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran".

Israel reports that dozens of Shahed drones (file photo) have been launched by Iran
Israel reports that dozens of Shahed drones (file photo) were launched by Iran alongside a barrage of missiles, both cruise and ballistic. Picture: Alamy

Former army officer Major General Tim Cross has told LBC he thinks Tehran is doing something it feels it has to do.

He said: "I don't think Iran really wants a major conflict with Israel, but it had to be seen to be responding to that Israeli attack on their consulate as there were some major casualties."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Tributes have been paid to watch seller Oliver White who was found dead after a raid

‘Our beautiful, funny, loyal boy’: Heartbroken family pay tribute to watch seller, 27, found dead after ‘traumatising’ robbery

Police have arrested 40 people following the demonstration on Tuesday.

Three officers injured and 40 people arrested after police clash with pro-Palestine protesters in Westminster

Thailand Thaksin

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra indicted for royal defamation

APTOPIX Papua New Guinea Landslide

Mass evacuations in Papua New Guinea amid fears of further landslides

APTOPIX Israel Palestinians

Algeria proposes UN resolution demanding Israel halt offensive in Rafah

Venezuela Election

Venezuela revoke EU invitation to observe nation’s presidential election in July

Rishi Sunak

Sunak pledges to create 100,000 more apprenticeships every year by shutting down “rip-off” university degrees

Garry Conille

Transitional council in Haiti selects new PM for country under siege by gangs

Keir Starmer has pledged to cut NHS waiting lists

‘Cutting NHS waiting lists is our priority’: Starmer unveils ‘first steps’ for Government if elected into Downing Street

Former US pesident Donald Trump sits with lawyers while he attends his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City

Trump trial: Prosecutor focuses on ‘cover-up’ while defence attacks key witness

Iain Dale is stepping down from LBC

Iain Dale to step down from LBC to put himself forward to be selected as a candidate for MP in the General Election

Amie Gray was stabbed to death on Friday night

Man, 20, from south London, arrested after personal trainer stabbed to death on Bournemouth beach

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel

Israeli strikes continue near Gaza’s Rafah

Tributes have been paid to women’s football coach Amie Gray. Police have released CCTV of a suspect

Police search teams scour cliffs following fatal stabbing of Amie Gray 34, as manhunt for murderer continues

Changes in VAT exemption for private schools won't happen before the next budget

Labour refuses to rule out possibility of mid-academic year rise in private school fees

Aid pier

US-built aid pier in Gaza will need to be removed after damage from rough seas