US says doesn't want escalation as Israel war cabinet mulls response to Iran attack

AFP , Sunday 14 Apr 2024

The United States does not want to see an escalation of the crisis in the Middle East, a top White House official said Sunday after Israel repelled a massive missile and drone attack from Iran.

President Joe Biden, along with members of his national security team, receive an update on an ongoing airborne attack on Israel from Iran, as they meet in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, April 13, 2024. AP


"We don't want to see this escalate," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on NBC's "Meet the Press". "We're not looking for a wider war with Iran."

Israel was on high alert Sunday after Iran's unprecedented attack sparked fears of a broader conflict.

Iran launched its first-ever direct assault on Israeli territory late Saturday in retaliation for a deadly strike by Israel on Tehran's consulate in Damascus on April 1.

US President Joe Biden has reaffirmed Washington's "ironclad" support for Israel while appearing to guide its staunch ally away from a military response.

News outlet Axios said the president had told Netanyahu he would oppose an Israeli counterattack against Iran and that the prime minister should "take the win."

Kirby added in the interview that the United States is "staying vigilant" to any Iranian threats to American troops.

"We made it very clear to all parties, including Iran, what we would do ... and also how seriously we would take any potential threats to our personnel," Kirby said.

Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles towards Israel late Saturday.

But almost all were intercepted before they reached Israeli territory, the army said, with help from the United States, Jordan, Britain and other allies.

Israels mulls response

Israel’s war cabinet met on Sunday afternoon to discuss a possible response to the Iranian attack, Israeli media reported.

The war cabinet has been authorized to decide how to respond to the attack, with two of its members warning that the event is " not over yet."

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the attack had been “thwarted this attack in a way that is unparalleled” but added: “We must be prepared for every scenario.”

War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz said Israel must strengthen the strategic alliance and the regional cooperation that allowed it to weather yesterday’s Iranian attack.

“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," Gantz continued.

In his first comments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We have intercepted, we have contained. Together we shall win.”

Israel will respond to Iran’s attack, but the scope of that attack has yet to be decided, an Israeli official told CNN on Sunday.

The official said Israel is yet to determine whether to try and “break all the dishes” or do something more measured.

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