PM: 'We intercepted. We blocked. Together we will win'

Biden lauds ‘remarkable’ Israeli defense against Iran, said to oppose military response

US president to convene G7 leaders as Security Council set to meet, is reportedly concerned Netanyahu trying to pull Washington into wider conflict; world leaders condemn ‘reckless’ Iran

US 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, April 13, 2024. (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)
US 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, April 13, 2024. (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)

The United States helped Israel take out almost all of the around 300 drones and missiles fired at it in a “unprecedented attack” from Iran, US President Joe Biden said early Sunday, amid reported fears in Washington that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will try to pull the Americans into wider regional conflict.

US military aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers that were moved to the region over the past week assisted Israeli air defense systems in intercepting a large wave of drones and missiles launched toward the country from Iran late Saturday.

“Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our service members, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” Biden said.

In Netanyahu’s first public comment in the wake of the attack, he posted a short message on X saying, “We intercepted. We blocked. Together we will win.”

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said early Sunday that in total, Iran launched more than 300 projectiles at Israel –170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles — and that 99 percent of them were intercepted by air defenses.

While all of the drones and cruise missiles and most of the ballistic missiles were downed outside of Israeli airspace, according to the IDF, a young girl in southern Israel was seriously wounded by shrapnel following an interception over the area.

This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024, shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky as Israeli air defenses respond to an Iranian attack on Israel. (AFPTV/AFP)

Hagari said there was also “slight damage to infrastructure” at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel.

The US president said he called Netanyahu in the wake of the Iranian attack to reaffirm Washington’s “ironclad” support for Israel, after recent tense relations over the war in Gaza.

“Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks – sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel,” Biden’s office said in a statement describing his call with Netanyahu shortly after the attack.

Countries around the world condemned Iran’s strikes on Israel, with many warning that the attack threatened to further destabilize the Middle East.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a statement condemned the “reckless” strikes, which he said “risk inflaming tensions and destabilizing the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.”

The European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, condemned the strikes as “an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security” in a message on X.

Pictures released by the Israeli Air Force showing planes returning after intercepting the direct attack from Iran, April 14, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

With the United Nations Security Council set to hold an emergency meeting Sunday over Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned “the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation,” he added, calling on parties to “avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East.”

Biden: ‘United diplomatic response’

Biden said that he was convening fellow G7 leaders on Sunday to “coordinate a united diplomatic response” to Iran’s “brazen” attack, in an apparent indication that a military response is not currently on the table, while also noting that the attack on Israel was only on military facilities.

An NBC News report in the hours after the attack cited fears from senior US officials that Israel could act rashly in the wake of the Iranian attack without regard for the fallout. Citing a senior administration official and a senior defense official, the report said that the White House concerns stem from the way in which Israel has conducted its ongoing war in Gaza and the April 1 attack on senior Iranian general Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi in Damascus.

The Iranian attack on Israel came in response to that strike.

Emergency services work at a destroyed building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/ Omar Sanadiki)

“I don’t think they had a strategy,” the US official was quoted as saying. “The Israelis don’t always make the best strategic decisions.”

At the same time, the officials quoted in the report said the US does not believe that Israel is looking for a full-blown war with Iran, but that it can’t be certain.

News outlet Axios reported that Biden had told Netanyahu he would oppose any Israeli counterattack against Iran, that the US would not join any such attack, and that the prime minister should “take the win.”

“You got a win. Take the win,” Biden told Netanyahu, according to a White House official quoted in the Axios report. The official also said Netanyahu said he understood when Biden told Netanyahu the US would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran and would not support such operations.

After launching the drone strikes, Tehran warned the United States on Sunday to “stay away” from its conflict with Israel.

Demonstrators wave Iran’s flag and Palestinian flags as they gather at Palestine Square in Tehran on April 14, 2024. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Earlier Saturday, Biden cut short a weekend trip to the Delaware coast and flew back to Washington for an emergency meeting at the White House with his top national security officials.

He posted a picture of the meeting in the wood-paneled White House Situation Room with officials including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA Director Bill Burns.

Leading lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties expressed support for Israel against an Iranian attack.

The US House of Representatives will make a change in its schedule to consider legislation that supports Israel and holds Iran accountable, Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said in a statement, without elaborating on what exactly the legislation would do.

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