4 ballistic missiles hit Nevatim, causing minor damage

Visiting targeted air base, IDF chief promises response to Iranian attack

Iran will ‘face consequences of its actions,’ Halevi warns; military spokesman says Nevatim continues to function, cautions home front rules could change in coming days

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, April 15, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, April 15, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

NEVATIM AIRBASE — Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi warned Monday that Iran’s missile and drone attack on the country a day earlier, which caused slight damage to an airbase, “will be met with a response.”

The comments were made as he met soldiers at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, where four Iranian ballistic missiles struck during the attack early Sunday. It came hours after the war cabinet met to decide on an Israeli response.

“Iran wanted to harm the strategic capabilities of the State of Israel — that is something that had not happened before. We were prepared for the ‘Iron Shield’ operation — preparation that brought Iran to also encounter aerial superiority,” he said, referring to the effort to counter the Iran blitz by its military code name.

“Last Monday, we saw what was being organized, and we think that the State of Israel is very strong and knows how to deal with it alone, but with a threat so numerous and so far away, we are always happy to have [the United States] with us,” Halevi said.

“We are looking ahead, we are considering our steps, and this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response,” he added.

In a separate English-language video statement, Halevi said the attack had “created new opportunities for cooperation in the Middle East” and that “Iran will face the consequences for its actions.”

“Over the weekend, Iran launched a large-scale attack on Israel. Over 350 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, armed drones, and rockets were fired from Iranian soil — as well as Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon — towards the State of Israel,” he said.

“Across the skies of the Middle East — a coalition was activated to counter this attack, marking the start of the IDF’s Operation: ‘Iron Shield,'” Halevi continued.

“The Israel Defense Forces — together with the United States Central Command; the British Armed Forces; the French Armed Forces, and other partners — operated together in real-time — in the air, on the ground, and at sea,” he said.

“Defense systems were activated; the threats were intercepted — and Iran’s attack on Israel failed. Operation Iron Shield proved the strength of our iron-clad cooperation,” Halevi said.

Halevi said he thanks “all our international partners who stood up to Iran’s aggression. Iran’s attack has created new opportunities for cooperation in the Middle East.”

“We are closely assessing the situation. We remain at our highest level of readiness. Iran will face the consequences for its actions. We will choose our response accordingly. The IDF remains ready to counter any threat from Iran and its terror proxies, as we continue our mission to defend the State of Israel,” he added.

This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024, shows explosions lighting up the sky over the West Bank city of Hebron, during an Iranian attack on Israel. (AFPTV/AFP)

Nevatim was hit in the Iranian missile attack, with the IDF reporting minor damage to infrastructure.

According to the IDF, Iran’s attack included 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles — 99% of which were intercepted by air defenses.

All the drones and cruise missiles were downed outside of the country’s airspace by the Israeli Air Force and its allies, including the United States, United Kingdom, Jordan, France, and others.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari in a press statement from Nevatim said the airbase was running as usual, following the Iranian missile and drone attack.

“The base is fully functional and continues to send out aircraft for operational missions,” he told reporters after Halevi’s visit.

He said Iran’s “attack was foiled almost without [any of the projectiles] entering our territory.”

Damage caused to infrastructure at Nevatim was “minor,” Hagari said.

He said four missiles struck the base: One near a runway, two in open areas, and one near a building that was under construction, causing slight damage to it.

“All these impacts will be fixed in the coming days. This base functions around the clock, it functioned during Operation Iron Shield, and, even today, planes took off from this base to defend the skies of the State of Israel,” Hagari said.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari speaks at the Nevatim Airbase, April 15, 2024 (Screenshot: Israel Defense Forces)

The spokesman said the military “continues to be prepared and alert in the defense of the country. We are assessing the situation and following the developments.”

“We are in a war on multiple fronts. The threats change in their scale and frequency,” he warned, amid reports that Israel has decided to hit back “clearly and forcefully” against Iran with a response designed to send the message that Israel “will not allow an attack of that magnitude against it to pass without a reaction.”

“In accordance with that,” he said, “instructions [to the public] change too. The instructions could change in the coming days as well, and we will continue to update you immediately,” Hagari added.

The unprecedented Iranian attack came as tensions between Israel and Iran had reached a new high in recent days. Iran vowed to avenge seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members, including two generals, who were killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike on a building near Tehran’s embassy in Damascus on April 1.

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