Tensions rise amid expectations of Iran retaliation against Israel

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Iran’s mission to the United Nations has suggested that any Iranian military response to a deadly Israeli air raid on the Iranian consulate in Damascus could have been averted if the UN Security Council had denounced Israel’s attack.

The Iranian statement on Thursday comes amid a growing number of media reports that an Iranian attack on Israel or Israeli interests is imminent.


“Had the UN Security Council condemned the Zionist regime’s reprehensible act of aggression on our diplomatic premises in Damascus and subsequently brought to justice its perpetrators, the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime might have been obviated,” the Iranian mission said in a social media post.

Iran has promised to carry out a “decisive” response to the Israeli attack that killed seven members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two generals, in Damascus on April 1.

The Israeli assault and anticipated Iranian retaliation have raised fears of an all-out regional war in the Middle East amid the raging conflict in Gaza, intensifying tensions and a chorus of calls for de-escalation.




Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held phone calls with his Qatari, Saudi, Emirati, Iraqi and German counterparts on Thursday.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock cautioned against further tensions during her talks with Amir-Abdollahian, Berlin said.


“Avoiding further regional escalation must be in everyone’s interest. We urge all actors in the region to act responsibly and exercise maximum restraint,” the German Federal Foreign Office said in a post on X.


German airline Lufthansa extended its suspension on flights to Tehran on Thursday, the Reuters news agency cited a company spokesperson as saying.

Russia also warned its citizens against travelling to the Middle East, especially Israel, the Palestinian territory and Lebanon.

The United States, which has forces stationed across the region, had warned Iran against attacking Israel, pledging support for its ally.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad; let me say it again: ironclad,” US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. “We’re going to do all we can to protect Israel’s security.”

A US official, who spoke to Al Jazeera Arabic on condition of anonymity, said Biden’s statement is not merely rhetorical, and the US would help intercept Iranian rockets or drones against Israel.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke via phone to Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday.

“Secretary Blinken reiterated the United States’ support for Israel’s security and made clear that the US will stand with Israel against any threats by Iran and its proxies,” the US Department of State said in a statement.


Blinken also spoke to his Turkish, Chinese and Saudi counterparts, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Thursday.

“We have been engaged in a series of contacts not just at his [Blinken’s] level – but other levels, too – to talk to foreign counterparts to send this really clear message to Iran that they should not escalate this conflict,” Miller said.

The New York Times reported, citing anonymous Pentagon sources that Michael E Kurilla, the top US general in the Middle East, was visiting Israel on Thursday to discuss the possible Iranian attack.



Later on Thursday, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated that the US is committed to Israel’s security without providing details on how Washington would respond to an Iranian strike. “I want to be really careful. I am not going to get into operational procedures from here,” she told reporters.

Iran hawks in the US Congress have been calling for a strong response by Washington to any Iranian military move against Israel.

“Israel is under threat of imminent attack by Iran,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton wrote in a social media post on Thursday. “President Biden needs to warn the ayatollahs immediately that the United States will back Israel to the hilt and the joint American-Israeli retaliation for any attack will be swift and devastating.”



Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to issue a threat to Iran and other adversaries, saying that the country is prepared for “challenges in other arenas” beyond the war on Gaza.

“We have determined a simple rule: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We are prepared to meet all of the security needs of the State of Israel, both defensively and offensively,” Netanyahu said during a visit to an airbase in central Israel, according to his office.



The Israeli military has been attacking Iran-linked targets in Syria for years as Tehran deepened its military presence in the war-torn country.

But the attack on the Iranian diplomatic facility in Damascus earlier this month was seen as especially brazen. It garnered condemnations from across the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“The consulate and embassy offices in any country are considered to be the territory of that country. When they attack our consulate, it means they have attacked our territory,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

“The Zionist regime made a mistake and must be punished and will be punished.”

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