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Iran launches drone attacks on Israel

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert   

Iran launches drone attacks on Israel
  • Iran launched an airborne attack toward Israel on Saturday.
  • The White House confirmed the attack was underway and underlined American support for Israel.

Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel, the White House confirmed on Saturday.

Iranian state television confirmed in a ticker that the attack came in the form of an "extensive drone operation," Radio Free Europe reporter Kian Sharifi noted in a post on X. An IDF spokesperson indicated dozens of drones had been launched from Iran, according to Times of Israel reporter Emanuel Fabian.

The attack follows months of escalating tensions in the region, though the two countries have traded attacks for years as part of a long-simmering conflict between the adversaries. Iran threatened to retaliate after Israel struck an Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1, reportedly killing several high-level Iranian military commanders.

The April strike was significant, Business Insider's Jake Epstein reported, as it could be considered the first time Israel targeted high-ranking officials at an Iranian government-affiliated site.

In a post on X, the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations wrote that the military action taken Saturday was conducted "in response to the Zionist regime's aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus."

"The matter can be deemed concluded," the official statement read. "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 US MUST STAY AWAY!"

While reports of hundreds of drones and missiles being fired toward Israel continued on Saturday afternoon, at the time of publication, there has been no indication anyone on the ground in Israel has been injured or killed by the barrage.

"I don't think either Israel or Iran wants this to escalate into a full-blown war; that's my assessment," Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, told Business Insider, confirming that dozens of drones had been launched toward Israel.

"But if this goes wrong, this could turn into a world war," Hassan-Nahoum said. "So, hopefully they won't have done too much damage, and we will be able to defend ourselves and not have anybody getting hurt from this. But if a lot of Israelis do get injured or killed, then this will definitely escalate to something much bigger."

In response to the drones being launched, she said, Israel will be shutting down its airspace beginning at 12:30 a.m. local time for a total of 7 hours and that Israelis have been told to shelter at home in the meantime. Hassan-Nahoum noted that she expects continued American support for Israel in response to the attacks, which the White House confirmed in a statement the country is prepared to provide.

"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," NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. "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."

CNN, citing a senior administration official, reported several hours after the strikes occurred that Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US would not contribute to offensive strikes against Iran in the wake of the attack.

"Our forces remain postured to protect US troops and partners in the region, provide further support for Israel's defense, and enhance regional stability," Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement released Saturday night. "We do not seek conflict with Iran, but we will not hesitate to act to protect our forces and support the defense of Israel."

America has provided Israel with roughly $130 billion in military and economic aid since the country's founding in 1948, according to October information from the State Department.

Since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, America's military support of the country has ratcheted up. However, enthusiasm to continue providing aid has been waning among some lawmakers who have criticized Israel's scorched-earth response to the attacks, which has left at least 31,184 Palestinians dead and 72,889 injured, per March numbers reported by the United Nations.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.