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Iran fires over 300 drones, missiles at Israel in unprecedented attack

A 10-year-old Bedouin girl was seriously wounded, apparently by an Iranian rocket, in the southern city of Arad.

A military museum in Iran in 2019. Credit: saeediex/Shutterstock.
A military museum in Iran in 2019. Credit: saeediex/Shutterstock.

Iran fired more than 300 missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles from its territory towards Israel on Saturday night, in a major response to the April 1 killing of several IRGC officers in Syria.

Rocket warning sirens blared across northern and southern Israel, as well as in Jerusalem and towns in Samaria.

A 10-year-old Bedouin girl was seriously wounded, apparently by an Iranian rocket, in the southern city of Arad. Magen David Adom emergency medics evacuated the victim to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva.

The Israel Defense Forces called on residents of the Golan Heights in the north and the Dimona, Eilat and Nevatim areas in the south to stay near bomb shelters until further notice.

An Israeli defense official told Army Radio that more than 100 drones had already been intercepted outside of Israeli airspace. The official said the UAVs were shot down by the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Israeli Air Force was tracking additional UAVs and watching for additional waves of attacks. Tehran’s official IRNA news agency reported that ballistic missiles were among the projectiles fired at Israel.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen also launched an unknown number of drones at the Jewish state, Agence France-Presse cited the Ambrey maritime security agency as saying.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that the military had prepared for this kind of scenario and was ready to intercept the incoming projectiles. He noted, however, that Israel’s aerial defense systems were not hermetic.

The Israel Airports Authority announced the country’s airspace would close from 12:30 a.m.

In a video address to the nation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country was ready to defend itself and go on the attack.

“Citizens of Israel, 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,” said Netanyahu.

“The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong,” he added.

The premier thanked the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other countries for their support in the face of Iranian aggression.

“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,” said Netanyahu.

“Citizens of Israel, I know that you also are also level-headed. I call on you to follow the directives of the IDF Home Front Command. Together we will stand and with God’s help, together we will overcome all of our enemies,” he added.

The IDF Home Front Command on Saturday night issued new guidelines, including a prohibition on educational activities and on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated Saturday night that his administration was committed to upholding the Jewish state’s security.

“Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel. President Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team and will meet with them this afternoon,” according to a statement from the White House.

“His team is in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies. This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours. 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 defense against these threats from Iran,” added the statement.

Earlier on Saturday, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval forces hijacked the Israeli-linked MSC Aries container ship close to the Strait of Hormuz.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz slammed Tehran for seizing the Portuguese-registered cargo vessel, which is operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company and associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime.

Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli real estate, energy, technology and shipping magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Katz called on the European Union and the rest of the free world to immediately designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

“The Ayatollah regime of [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei is a criminal regime that supports Hamas’s crimes and is now conducting a piracy operation in violation of international law,” he said.

In response, IDF Spokesman Hagari warned that Iran would “bear the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”

“Iran funds, trains and arms terror proxies across the Middle East and beyond. Iran-backed Hamas started this war on October 7; Iran-backed Hezbollah expanded this war on October 8; and since then, Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, and Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, have expanded this into a global conflict,” said Hagari.

Netanyahu on Saturday night decided to convene the War Cabinet and then the broader Security Cabinet.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also held an assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and other security officials.

“In recent days we have strengthened our defensive and offensive array and we are determined to take any measures required to defend the citizens of the State of Israel,” according to a statement by Gallant on Saturday evening.

“We have added new capabilities—on land, in the air, at sea, in our Intelligence Directorate, within the State of Israel and together with our partners, led by the United States,” he said.

“Iran is a terrorist state—the world is seeing this now more than ever. We are determined to defend our citizens against this terrorism, and we will know how to respond to it,” said Gallant.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations said overnight Saturday that its “military action” against Israel had ended.

Tehran said the attack was a response to Israel’s “aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus [and] the matter can be deemed concluded.

“However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. must stay away.”

A senior Israel official told Channel 12 that Jerusalem was planning a “significant response” to the Iranian attack.

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