US leads group of 48 UN members in condemning Iranian attack on Israel

Countries note that Iran’s missile barrage violated airspace of several nations, put innocent people at risk; statement also condemns Iran’s ‘militant partners’

General view of a UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on April 17, 2024. (Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
General view of a UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on April 17, 2024. (Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

The United States and 47 other countries at the United Nations issued a statement Wednesday unequivocally condemning attacks on Israel by Iran “and its militant partners.”

An Iranian attack overnight Saturday-Sunday marked the first time Tehran has launched a direct military assault on Israel. Israeli authorities said Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles, 99% of which were intercepted by air defenses in tandem with the US, Britain, France and Jordan.

The attack took place nearly two weeks after a suspected Israeli strike in Syria killed two Iranian generals and several others in a building in Damascus that Iran says was a consulate.

The 48 mainly Western countries also condemned the fact that the ballistic and cruise missiles and attack drones “violated the airspace of several regional states, putting at risk the lives of innocent people in those countries, and appeared to traverse airspace near the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

“We welcome the efforts to avert a further immediate escalation of violence in the region following the successful coordinated efforts to defend against Iran’s attack,” the statement said. “We call on all regional parties to take steps to avert further escalation of the situation.”

The countries further condemned Iran’s seizure of a Portuguese-flagged commercial ship near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday and called for the immediate release of the ship and its crew. The ship’s operators said Wednesday the crew of the MSC Aries are safe but still captive.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks on his priorities for 2024 during a press briefing at UN headquarters on February 8 , 2024 in New York. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for “maximum restraint” between Israel and Iran.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that rhetoric in the Middle East is becoming “increasingly dangerous.” Dujarric said the world and the region “cannot afford another open conflict.”

Israel has vowed revenge for the attack while its allies, including the US, are urging it to show restraint.

The US and other Western governments hope new economic sanctions against Iran will help persuade Israel to limit the scope of its retaliation.

European leaders have already agreed to impose sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone producers. The US has said it too will impose similar sanctions.

Both Israel and Iran have publicly kept up bellicose rhetoric since the missile attack.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on April 17, 2024 (GPO)

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following meetings with the British and German foreign ministers, vowed at a cabinet meeting that Israel would make its own decisions and do whatever is necessary to protect itself, even if it is contrary to the advice offered by its allies.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that the “tiniest invasion” by Israel would bring a “massive and harsh” response.

The strike in Damascus came against the background of near-daily attacks along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group and Israeli retaliation to the assaults.

Hezbollah began border violence, including deadly rocket attacks on Israeli towns and communities in the region, the day after the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a devastating October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people. Hezbollah says it is supporting Gaza.

Israel responded to the Hamas attack with a military offensive to destroy the terror group and free 253 hostages of all ages who were abducted from the country during the Hamas assault.

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