Allies urge restraint as Israel mulls response to Iran attack

Allies urge restraint as Israel mulls response to Iran attack

Apr 16, 2024

Tel Aviv [Israel], April 16: Calls for restraint mounted on Israel on Monday following Iran's unprecedented attack on the country, amid fears that the confrontation could further inflame tensions in the Middle East and bring the two sworn enemies to the brink of war.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Israel to help de-escalate the situation, calling the country's largely successful deterrence of around 300 drones and missiles "a success that should maybe not be thrown away," during a visit to China.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock cautioned Israel against retaliation. "The right to self-defence means defence against an attack. Retaliation is not a category in international law," she noted.
"We will do everything in our power to prevent a flare-up, an escalation," French President Emmanuel Macron told broadcaster BFMTV.
On Sunday, US President Joe Biden had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "think carefully and strategically about risks of escalation," according to a senior US government official.
It is unclear at present how Israel will react to the unprecedented airstrikes using drones, ballistic and cruise missiles, which were largely repelled with the support of other states.
A second meeting of the Israeli war cabinet within 24 hours was expected on Monday, at 2pm (1100 GMT) according to the ynet news website and Haaretz daily.
The war cabinet, headed by Netanyahu, had made no decision on a possible response during three hours of discussions on Sunday, according to media reports. Several options for a possible Israeli retaliatory strike were reportedly discussed.
Within the Israeli government, there are calls for swift and harsh action, particularly from politicians on the far-right wing. The hardliners are not represented in the war cabinet, however.
"The best thing to do in the case of Israel is to recognize this has been a failure for Iran," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Times Radio.
While Israel had the right to respond to such an attack, he said Britain also wanted to avoid escalation and was urging the country to "think with head as well as heart." Western leaders also directed warnings at Tehran. Iran's first ever direct attack on Israel was a "terrible escalation" that should not have taken place, Scholz said. Baerbock said she had spoken with Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian to warn against any further escalation.
The German Foreign Office summoned Iran's ambassador in response to the overnight attack, a spokesman said. Tehran had also summoned the German ambassador on Sunday, along with those of France and Britain, citing the countries' "irresponsible positions." Amirabdollahian, meanwhile, described his country's attack on Israel as a matter of "legitimate defence" in talks with several of his counterparts.
In a call with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Amirabdollahian once again criticized the April 1 attack on Iran's embassy compound that left seven people dead, including two top commanders. Israel has not denied responsibility for the airstrike.
Amirabdollahian said Iran "had no choice but to punish the Zionist regime as part of its legitimate defence," a statement from his ministry said.
According to his ministry, Amirabdollahian has also spoken to the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Syria, India, Qatar, Egypt and Malta.
In a conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Iran's foreign minister warned of a harsh response if Israel retaliates.
Earlier on Monday, Israel's Home Front Command lifted restrictions imposed on civilians as the country braced for the Iranian attack.
The order had banned educational activities and put limits on workplace and other public gatherings.
Exceptions continue to apply to high-risk areas, such as communities bordering the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. In Iran meanwhile, airports resumed normal operations following the drone and missile attack on Israel, according to state media.
Source: Qatar Tribune