April 14, 2024

Israel war live updates: Iran launches extensive drone, missile attack: Biden cuts short weekend trip

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What we know so far

By Angus Thompson

Thank you for following our rolling coverage of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. I’ve been manning our dedicated blog on Iran’s attack for the past few hours, having taken over from my colleague James Lemon on the world desk. I’ll continue to bring you updates throughout the afternoon, but here’s a recap of what we know about the situation so far:

Iran carried out an unprecedented direct attack on Israel, launching hundreds of missiles and drones from about 6am AEST, which was 11pm in Israel. According to a recent update from Israeli military, more than 300 projectiles were launched overnight.According to Israel, 99 per cent of drones and missiles were intercepted by its defence systems, corresponding with a report from US President Joe Biden, who said the US helped Israel take down “nearly all” of the incoming projectiles.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system launches from central Israel to intercept missiles fired from Iran.Credit: APBiden said the US had directed its military aircraft and ballistic missile defence destroyers to the region over the past week, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready for a direct attack from Iran, something it had been preparing for in recent years.Iran’s Foreign Ministry said its strikes against Israel were an act of self-defence following Israel’s “genocidal campaign” against Palestinian people and attacks on regional neighbours. Iran had vowed revenge since an April 1 airstrike in Syria killed two Iranian generals inside an Iranian consular building.US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said US forces had also helped Israel intercept dozens of projectiles from Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He said the US was not seeking conflict with Iran but warned it would not hesitate to defend its forces or support Israel.Many world leaders have condemned Iran’s actions. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia had warned Iran against “these reckless attacks”. “This escalation is a grave threat to the security of Israel and the entire region. It risks greater instability and devastation across the Middle East. Australia continues to support regional security, including that of Israel,” he said earlier.Biden will convene an urgent meeting of G7 leaders, while the UN Security Council will also meet tomorrow after Israel requested it designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation.

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Israel mobilises for growing conflict

By David Crowe

Israel is mobilising for a growing conflict in the Middle East after Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles in a direct strike on Israeli territory, fuelling talk of a counter-attack and triggering an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.

The attack has raised the prospect of a military escalation as the Israeli war cabinet debates its next move and United States President Joe Biden pledges “ironclad” support for Israel and holds talks with G7 leaders to ensure a united diplomatic response.

A surfer waits for wave while an Israeli military naval ship patrols the Mediterranean sea off the coast of Hadera, Israel.Credit: AP

But the Australian response to the attack revealed the deepening political divide over the Middle East, with Labor condemning Iran, the Coalition demanding stronger support for Israel and the Greens taking aim at military suppliers who help the Israeli Defence Force.

Peak members of the Australian Jewish community said the attack was proof that Iran was trying to “set the region on fire” by spreading terror into other countries, while the Australian National Imams Council called on the government to avoid taking positions in the conflict.

You can read more of David Crowe’s coverage of Sunday’s events here.

That concludes our live coverage of Iran’s attack on Israel for today. Thanks for reading.


Israeli airspace reopens

Israeli airlines said operations were returning to normal after the overnight attack by Iranian missiles and drones closed the airspace and led to flight cancellations.

Israel reopened its airspace as of 7:30am (2:30pm AEST) on Sunday, adding that flight schedules from Tel Aviv were expected to be affected and that travellers should check flight times before going to Ben Gurion International Airport.

Flag carrier El Al said it had resumed operations and was “working to stabilise the flight schedule as soon as possible”.

“El Al will continue to operate as much as possible to preserve the air bridge to and from Israel,” it said.

The airline had cancelled 15 flights to Europe, Dubai and Moscow scheduled for Sunday while flights that had taken off from Bangkok and Phuket were forced to return.

Smaller Israeli carrier Arkia said it was in the process of making adjustments to its flight schedule after initially postponing flights to Athens, Milan and Geneva.



How world leaders responded

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “In recent years, and especially in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for a direct attack by Iran. Our defensive systems are deployed; we are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong.”

US President Joe Biden“Our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

US National Security Spokesperson Adrienne Watson “President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defence against these threats from Iran.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq. Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilise the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau“These attacks demonstrate yet again the Iranian regime’s disregard for peace and stability in the region. We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

German ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert “Germany’s solidarity is with all Israelis tonight whom Iran is terrorising with this unprecedented and ruthless attack: Jews as well as Arabs and Christians, the Bedouins in the Negev as well as the Druze in the Golan. May they all be safe.”

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne“France condemns in the strongest terms the attack launched by Iran against Israel. By deciding on such an unprecedented action, Iran is taking a new step in its destabilising actions and taking the risk of a military escalation.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable Iranian attack against Israel. This is an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security.”

Danish foreign minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen“Denmark strongly condemns Iran’s announced attack on Israel. I urge everyone to show restraint and deescalate the situation. Iran’s destabilising role in the Middle East is unacceptable – and so is this attack.”

Paraguayan President Santiago Pena”In such difficult times, we express our full support for the people of Israel, and are concerned about the increase of violence in the region.”

Chilean Foreign Minister Alberto van Klavern“We express our concern about the serious escalation of tensions in the Middle East and the Iranian attacks against Israel. Chile condemns the use of force and defends international humanitarian law, which protects civilian lives in armed conflicts.”


Blinken will speak to allies ‘in hours and days ahead’

By Angus Thompson

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he will consult with allies “in the hours and days ahead” as the world responds to Iran’s attack on Israel.

In a statement, Blinken joined other US and world leaders in condemning the assault “in the strongest possible terms”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will consult with allies on the next steps in the response to Iran’s attack.Credit: AP

“While we do not seek escalation, we will continue to support Israel’s defense, and as the president made clear, we will defend US personnel. I will be consulting with allies and partners in the region and around the world in the hours and days ahead,” he said.

US President Joe Biden said earlier he would convene a meeting with member of the G7, which Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, to co-ordinate a diplomatic response, while the UN Security Council is also set to deliberate a resolution concerning the attacks on Monday morning (AEST).


Iran attack casts further doubt on viability of Labor’s deportation bill

By Angus Thompson

Returning to domestic politics, where a Senate committee is preparing to pick apart Labor’s controversial deportation bill, which threatens to bar entire nationalities from coming to Australia if their governments refuse to accept the involuntary return of citizens.

One of the offending countries is Iran, and MPs, lawyers and members of the Iranian community in Australia have questioned how the government expected the regime to respond to such a proposal.

Coalition senator Paul Scarr has questioned why Iran would change its immigration policies for Australia, given the escalating conflict.Credit: Oscar Colman

Coalition multicultural affairs spokesman Paul Scarr said the weekend’s events seemed to all but confirm the impossibility of what the government was trying to do in forcing certain countries to accept the return of citizens who were fighting their deportation from Australia.

“Given what has happened over the weekend, how can anyone seriously suggest that the Iranian regime would change any of its policies because it may be designated a removal concern country? Yet that is one of the justifications for the Labor government’s bill,” Scarr told this masthead.

“Stuck in the middle is the Iranian diaspora who have contributed so much to Australia.”

A parliamentary inquiry into the bill will kick off tomorrow. As well as black-banning citizens from certain countries, the proposed legislation also threatens up to five years’ jail for people who refuse to cooperate with their removal.


Hamas rejects latest hostage deal, Israel says

By Angus Thompson

Netanyahu’s office also released an update on negotiations surrounding the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Truce talks involving Qatari and US mediators have been ongoing in Cairo, in the hope of striking an agreement that would see a swift end to the conflict.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar does not want a humanitarian deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says.Credit: AP

In a statement released on Sunday, Netanyahu office said Hamas had rejected the latest proposal brought by three mediators “which included the most significant flexibility on Israel’s part”.

The statement said Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, “does not want a humanitarian deal and the return of the hostages, is continuing to exploit the tension with Iran, and is striving to unite the sectors and achieve a general escalation in the region.”

“Israel will continue to strive to realize the objectives of the war with Hamas with full force, and leave no stone unturned to return the 133 hostages from Gaza forthwith,” the statement said.


‘We will win’: Netanyahu pledges victory

By Angus Thompson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed victory in the escalating conflict after the nation’s air defences shot down hundreds of missile and drone strikes overnight.

“We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Netanyahu posted on X earlier today.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the nation will be victorious in the escalating conflict.Credit: AP

He already addressed the nation in a televised speech, saying Israel had been preparing for an attack from Iran. for weeks. “Both offensively and defensively, the state of Israel is strong, the IDF [Israeli Defence Force] is strong, the public is strong,” he said.

“We appreciate the United States standing alongside Israel, as well as the support of Great Britain, France and many other countries.

“We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard reported on social media it had hit military targets in Israel, however the New York Times has reported that, according to Israeli military officials, only light damage was done to one military base.

According to the masthead, 12 people were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in southern Israel overnight.


‘Cut ties with this despotic regime’: Liberal MP Julian Leeser calls on Australia to close embassy in Iran

By Angus Thompson

Federal Liberal MP Julian Leeser has called on the government to close Australia’s embassy in Iran.

“For decades, Iran has sponsored death and terror throughout the Middle East. All that has happened with today’s strikes on Israel is that Iran’s evil intent has been brought out into the open,” Leeser, a prominent Jewish Australian, said in a series of posts on social media platform X today.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser is calling on Australia to close its embassy in Iran.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“Last year, I called on the Albanese Government to close Australia’s Embassy in Iran. I repeat the call today. Our Embassy in Iran should be closed. The Prime Minister should give the order now.”

Leeser, a respected former Coalition frontbencher said Australia had nothing common with Iran, and urged the Albanese government to “cut ties with this despotic regime.”

“There is good and evil in the world, and the government should not act with indifference towards the only democratic nation in the Middle East. Iran deploys terror against its citizens at home, and it exports it abroad,” he said.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has backed Leeser’s call.


Iran warns of stronger retaliation should Israel fight back

By Angus Thompson

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations has warned the regime will respond with even greater force should Israel retaliate over the missile and drone attacks.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and Security Council president Vanessa Frazier, top diplomat Amir Saeid Iravani accused the council of failing to maintain international peace by “allowing the Israeli regime to transgress red lines and violate the fundamental principles of international law.”

“Such violations have exacerbated tensions in the region and threatened regional and international peace and security,” Iravani said, adding the regime did not seek to escalate conflict in the region.

He repeated assertions from Iran’s Foreign Ministry that the missile and drone strikes were an act of self-defence for Israeli air strikes, including one in Damascus that killed two Iranian generals inside what Iran says was a consular building.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not hesitate to exercise its inherent right of self-defense when required. Should the Israeli regime commit any military aggression again, Iran’s response will assuredly and decisively be stronger and more resolute,” Iravani said.


China calls for immediate end to conflict

By Angus Thompson

Beijing has expressed “deep concern” over Iran’s bombardment of Israel and has called on nations and proxy groups involved in the conflict to prevent military action from further escalating.

According to a release from China’s foreign ministry, the Asian superpower has called for an immediate end to the conflict, which it said was “the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is deeply concerned about the escalating conflict.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“China calls on the international community, especially countries with influence, to play a constructive role for the peace and stability of the region,” the statement said. “China expresses deep concern over the current escalation and calls on relevant parties to exercise calm and restraint to prevent further escalations.”

China had asked Iran to help rein in attacks on ships in the Red Sea by the Iran-backed Houthis, or risk harming business relations with Beijing.

Japan has also strongly condemned Iran’s actions. “This attack is one that further worsens the current Middle East situation. We are deeply concerned and strongly condemn this sort of escalation,” a statement from the nation’s foreign ministry said.

with Reuters

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