Iran launches direct drone and missile attacks at Israel - as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 Apr 2024

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched a drone and missile attack on Israel on Saturday, according to a statement released by the IRGC.

This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024 shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky during
This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024 shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky during Iranian attack on Israel. AFP

 

The attack comes in response to an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which Iran has condemned as a "crime."

"The Revolutionary Guard Air Force struck some targets in the territories occupied by the Zionist regime with drones and missiles," the statement said. The number of drones and missiles used, as well as the specific targets attacked, were not disclosed by the IRGC.

Israeli army confirmed that Iran launched drones at Israel directly from its territory Saturday, marking a major escalation of the long-running covert war between the regional foes.

"Iran launched UAVs from its territory towards the territory of the state of Israel," military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement.

"We are working in close cooperation with the United States and our partners in the region in order to act against the launches and intercept them," he said.

In Washington, the White House said that Iran's drone attack on Israel is likely to last several hours, while pledging to support its ally's defense against Tehran.

"This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, adding that "the United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran."

Israel's airport authority said its airspace will be closed from 12:30 am Sunday (2130 GMT Saturday) after the army reported Iran launched drones at Israel directly from its territory.

"In accordance with the guidance of the security system, starting at (12:30 am) the airspace of the state of Israel will be closed to international and domestic flights," the statement said.

Earlier on Saturday Israel warned that Iran would suffer the "consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further" as fears grew of wider conflict more than six months into Israel's war on Gaza.

 

04:05 The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday over Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel, the body's president said.

03:10 Crew members of Al-Qahera News in Tel Aviv have been released by Israeli authorities after being detained while carrying on their duties.

03:00 Israel's military says the “vast majority” of missiles launched from Iran were intercepted outside of Israel’s borders.

The Israeli army said in a statement early Sunday that dozens of surface-to-surface missile launches from Iran were identified approaching Israeli territory and that “the IDF Aerial Defense Array successfully intercepted the majority of the launches using the ‘Arrow’ Aerial Defense System, together with Israel’s strategic allies, before the launches crossed into Israeli territory."

“A small number of hits were identified, including at an IDF base in southern Israel, where minor damage was caused to infrastructure,” the statement added.

It said: “Many dozens of hostile aircraft, as well as dozens of cruise missiles, from Iran, were identified approaching Israeli territory and intercepted.”

Dozens of Israeli Air Force fighter jets are currently operating to intercept aerial threats approaching Israeli territory, it added.

02:30 Al-Qahera News crew in Tel Aviv were detained by Israeli authorities while carrying out their duties, the Egyptian news channel said.

02:20 UN Sec-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement saying: "I strongly condemn the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran this evening. I call for an immediate cessation of these hostilities.
 
I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation."

 

 

02:00 Former US president Donald Trump on Saturday blasted his opponent in the November election, Joe Biden, over Iran's attack on Israel, alleging it showed American "weakness" under his successor's leadership.

"God bless the people of Israel. They are under attack right now. That's because we show great weakness," he said at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

01:30 The UK government said Saturday it was sending additional fighter jets to the Middle East and would intercept airborne attacks as needed after Iran launched strikes on Israel.

Tehran's unprecedented drone and missile attack marked a major escalation of the long-running covert war between the regional foes.

Iran had repeatedly threatened to retaliate against Israel for a deadly April 1 air strike on its Damascus consular annex, and Washington had warned in recent days that the reprisals were imminent.

"In response to increased Iranian threats and the growing risk of escalation in the Middle East, the UK government has been working with partners across the region to encourage de-escalation and prevent further attacks," Britain's Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

"We have moved several additional Royal Air Force jets and air refueling tankers to the region. These will bolster Operation Shader, which is the UK's existing counter-Daesh operation in Iraq and Syria," the ministry added, using an alternate name for the Islamic State group.

"In addition, these UK jets will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required."

The statement also said Britain would "continue to cooperate closely with our regional partners in the interest of de-escalation."

01:20 The Israeli army said it sounded sirens in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border early Sunday after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel.

According to a statement by the army, "Sirens sounded in Kibbutz Snir, northern Israel." 

In a separate statement, the army said it urged residents of the northern Golan Heights and the areas of Nevatim, Dimona, and Eilat to stay "near protective spaces."

01:10 American forces have shot down drones launched at Israel by Iran in retaliation for a deadly strike on its consulate in Damascus, US media reported Saturday.

The reports which cited unnamed US officials did not specify where or how many of the drones were shot down, while an Israeli official earlier said that more than 100 drones had been launched by Tehran.

00:45 Several blasts were heard in Jerusalem at around 1:45 am on Sunday (2245 GMT Saturday) and sirens sounded shortly afterward, AFP journalists reported.

An AFP journalist also heard blasts from Jericho in the occupied West Bank, while the Israeli army said it had sounded sirens in the southern Negev region.

 

 

00:35 EgyptAir suspends its flights to Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon following the closure of airspace by these three countries.

00:25 Iran says it has concluded its "response" against Israel that came in response to the attack against Iran’s diplomatic mission in Damascus.

 

 

00:23 According to an Israeli defense official speaking to Army Radio, over 100 Iranian drones have been intercepted outside Israeli airspace, out of hundreds launched at Israel. The drones were reportedly neutralized by forces from the United States and the United Kingdom, the source revealed.

00:20 Egypt's air defenses are on "maximum alert" after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel, Al-Qahera News TV channel reported late Saturday.

"A crisis cell ... is closely monitoring the situation and submitting reports to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi hour by hour," the channel said, citing a senior security official.

00:17 The United States pledged to support Israel's defense against an Iranian drone attack Saturday as President Joe Biden held crisis talks with his top national security team.

 

 

 

Biden cut short a weekend trip to Delaware as fears grew of an attack news of which broke as the president was still in his helicopter on his way back to Washington.

The White House said that "Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel" and that it was "likely to unfold over several hours."

"President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel's security is ironclad," National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

"The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran."

Biden was kept regularly updated and his team was in "constant communication" with the Israelis and other allies, Watson said.

Biden was due to meet in the White House's heavily secured situation room with his top officials including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and CIA Chief Bill Burns, the White House added.

00:12 Yemen's Houthi rebels launched multiple drones at Israel in coordination with Iran, security firm Ambrey said late Saturday, adding that the projectiles were likely timed to reach Israel simultaneously.

"Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were reportedly launched by the Houthis toward Israel. The UAVs were launched in coordination with Iran," the company said. "Israeli ports are assessed to be potential targets," it added and warned of "collateral damage" to shipping.

00:08 Israeli sources told the New York Times that the expected targets of the Iranian attack are the Golan Heights and an Air Force base in the Negev. According to the report, the sources also said that Israel has detected drone and missile launches from Iraq as well.

00:05 Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warns that Tehran will firmly respond to any country that “opens its airspace or territory for attacks on Iran by Israel,” Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reports.

23:45 Egypt expressed its deep concern over the recent signs of escalation between Iran and Israel, urging all parties involved to exercise utmost restraint.

In a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday, Egypt voiced its apprehension regarding the announced Iranian offensive marches against Israel and the dangerous indications of heightened tensions between the two nations in recent times. The statement emphasized the need for maximum self-control to prevent further regional instability and stress.

Egypt's concerns stem from the belief that the ongoing dangerous escalation in the Iranian/Israeli arena is a direct consequence of the warnings it has repeatedly issued in the past. The country has consistently cautioned against the perils of expanding the conflict in the region, specifically following Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip and the provocative military activities observed in the area, the statement added. 

Highlighting its commitment to resolving the situation, Egypt emphasized that it remains in constant communication with all relevant parties, striving to contain the escalating tensions and avert any further threats to the region's stability and the interests of its people.

23:50 Sirens sound in the northern Israeli settlement of Snir, amid a rocket attack from Lebanon, according to Israeli media.

23:45 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convening a meeting of the war cabinet at the Kiryat military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said as reported by Times of Israel.

23:30 Jordan has declared a state of emergency, state-owned Al Mamlaka news reports, amid fears of an Iranian attack on Israel.

Earlier, Jordan announced it temporarily closed its airspace to all incoming, departing, and transit aircraft, saying the situation would be “continuously updated and reviewed according to developments.”

Lebanon also announced the temporary closure of its airspace, Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed TV says, amid threats of an Iranian attack on Israel.

According to army sources, the Syrian army puts its missile systems on high alert.

 

 

23:00 The Iranian drone attack underway against Israel marks a "severe and dangerous escalation," Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said Sunday.

"We are closely monitoring Iranian killer drones that are en route to Israel sent by Iran. This is a severe and dangerous escalation," Rear Admiral Hagari said.

22:40 Iraq announced late on Saturday it was closing its airspace and suspending all air traffic after neighbouring Iran launched a drone attack on Israel.

"Iraq's airspace has been closed and air traffic has been halted," Minister of Transport Razzak Al-Saadawi told state news agency INA. The Civil Aviation Authority said the closure would last from 11:30 pm (2030 GMT) until 5:30 am (0230 GMT).

 

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