Israel mulls response amid calls from allies to avoid all-out war with Iran

Israel mulls response amid calls from allies to avoid all-out war with Iran

Israel was said on Tuesday to be mulling a limited response to an unprecedented attack by Iran following strong appeals from Britain and its other allies to prevent the crisis from spiralling into all-out war.

Rishi Sunak was due to speak with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Prime Minister and other G7 leaders mull tougher sanctions on Iran. Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron was expected to visit Israel in the coming days after urging it to be “smart as well as tough” by not escalating the conflict.

In his first public appearance since Iran unleashed a barrage of missiles and drones against Israel on Saturday night, President Joe Biden said at the White House: “Together with our partners, we defeated that attack. The United States is committed to Israel’s security.”

He added: “We’re committed to a ceasefire that will bring the hostages home and prevent any conflict from spreading beyond what it already has.”

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said: “We don’t want to see a war with Iran. We don’t want to see a regional conflict.”

Mr Sunak on Monday echoed the US president in saying that Israel should “take the win” and avoid further escalation after 99 per cent of the incoming threats were shot down.

The Government maintained meanwhile that it would be counter-productive to ban Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) despite calls to label it a terrorist organisation, warning such a step could rupture diplomatic relations with Tehran at a crucial juncture.

RAF Typhoons took out a number of the Iranian drones alongside US, French and Jordanian counter-strikes. But the scale of the attack jolted the region and the wider world, coming after Israel was accused by Iran of an air strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus that killed seven IRGC officers.

Israeli military chief Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi said the Iranian strike “will be met with a response”. Army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Israel would respond “at the time that we choose”.

But military experts suggested that Israel could reply in a less direct manner, after a long history of targeted strikes against Iranian interests and senior personnel outside of Iran itself.

The fact that the Iranian barrage did not cause any deaths in Israel is seen as an important factor allowing for a more calibrated response, NBC quoted US officials as saying.

The White House made it clear that it would not join in any offensive operation against the Islamic republic.

Among options under consideration by Mr Netanyahu’s war cabinet are further strikes inside Syria, the officials said.

They said strikes could target shipments or storage facilities with advanced missile parts, weapons or components sent to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. Hezbollah as well as Hamas in Gaza are backed by Iran.

Iran said that it had acted in reprisal for the April 1 attack in Syria, which caused unease for Lord Cameron, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and other allies of Israel because it targeted a diplomatic building.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, said: “We’re on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it. We have to step on the brakes and reverse gear.”

Russia has refrained from publicly criticising its ally Iran. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Further escalation is in no one’s interests.”