Iran’s overnight attack ‘frightening’ — but most Israelis had faith in air defenses

After a sleepless night of sirens and booms, some Israelis want retaliation for massive drone and missile attack while others are thankful for US support

A man rides a bicycle along a Jerusalem street on April 14, 2024. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)
A man rides a bicycle along a Jerusalem street on April 14, 2024. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

Israelis in Jerusalem said Sunday that Iran’s overnight missile and drone attack was “frightening,” but they were confident in their country’s defenses — and some called for retaliation.

The city awoke to no noticeable difference in the main market or at its central train and bus stations.

Israel said it had “foiled” the unprecedented direct Iranian attack with the help of the United States and allies, but residents were worried.

“The situation is really frightening because we are afraid of what happens and all of the bombing and aircrafts,” said Jerusalem resident Ayala Salant, 48.

“However, we are very, very happy with the alliance that helped us because most of the aircraft and missiles didn’t make it to Israel. We hope that there will be a stop to this ongoing escalation soon.”

Yishai Levi, 67, said that Israel “once again proved technological… superiority, and handled it in an impressive manner.”

A surfer waits for a wave while an Israeli naval ship patrols the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Hadera, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The attack, which began late Saturday, followed repeated Iranian threats to retaliate against Israel for a deadly April 1 strike on Tehran’s Damascus consular building. A large wave of around 300 attack drones triggered air raid sirens throughout the country early Sunday as the military worked to intercept the Iranian projectiles.

It marked a major escalation in the long-running covert war between the regional foes, and comes against the backdrop of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But Sharin Avraham, 31, said “fighting against a state is a different war” and required a response from Israel.

“Iran’s attack should not go quietly,” she told AFP. “We have to respond because Iran is a country.”

“The State of Israel needs to show it that we are strong and this is not something that can simply pass. We are not the world’s punching bag.”

Gil, a 30-year-old Jerusalem resident who only gave his first name, said there was “no great fear.”

“It was nice to see that the West did stand by us and helped with interceptions,” he said.

Empty beaches in the coastal city of Netanya, on April 14, 2024. (Jack Guez/AFP)

But in northern Israel, near the restive border with Lebanon, residents told AFP they were afraid.

“We are not on an island. There are people around us that we fear,” said Waheb Khalayla, 68, from the Galilee town of Majd al-Krum.

“We are afraid of a war breaking out, it will affect daily life and economic livelihood,” the retired nurse said.

Iran’s proxies and allies also carried out coordinated attacks on Israeli positions as sirens sounded in many places and AFP correspondents heard blasts in the skies above Jerusalem early Sunday. Warning sirens sounded in the north as the Hezbollah terror group fired dozens of rockets from Lebanon, while Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched multiple drones at Israel in coordination with Iran.

The Israel Defense Forces said that drones launched from Yemen and Iraq amid the Iranian attack also failed to reach Israel.

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