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Iran Launches Retaliatory Strikes on Israel, Signals US Should Avoid Escalation

As Israeli defenses intercepted the missiles Saturday, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians across the West Bank.

Missiles are seen in the skies of Gaza City following the attack from Iran, in Gaza, on April 14, 2024.

Casualties

  • 33,686 + killed* and at least 76,309 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 462+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,139.
  • 604 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, and at least 6,800 injured.***

*Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel on April 13, 2024. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on April 5, this is the latest figure.

*** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” The number of Israeli soldiers wounded is according to Israeli media reports.

Key Developments

  • Iran launches an estimated 250-300 drones, ballistic and cruise missiles towards Israel in retaliation for the Israeli attack on an Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1 that killed a number of senior Iranian generals.
  • Israel, with the help of the U.S., UK, France, and Jordan, shoots down the “majority” of the drones and missiles fired by Iran, according to the Israeli military
  • Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari: “A number of Iranian missiles fell inside Israeli territory, causing minor damage to a military base with no casualties. Only one little girl has been hurt, and we hope she will be well.”
  • Iran sends letter to the UN, saying its drone strikes on Israel were an exercise of Iran’s “inherent right to self-defense” in response to Israel’s attack on the consulate, citing Article 51 of the UN Charter
  • UN Security Council set to hold emergency meeting on Sunday, April 14, upon request from Israel’s UN envoy
  • U.S. President Joe Biden reaffirms “ironclad” support for Israel, while reportedly advocating behind the scenes for de-escalation. Prior to Saturday, Biden had not rebuked Israel for the attack on the Iranian consulate, despite weeks of Iran threatening to retaliate.
  • Hezbollah launches missiles towards an army base in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
  • Ansar Allah (commonly referred to as the “Houthis”), launch simultaneous unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, towards Israel in accordance with Iranian strikes, Al Jazeera reported.
  • Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon temporarily closed their respective airspaces ahead of the Iranian attack.
  • Around 50 Palestinians injured and at least two killed since Friday in Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank, while Israeli forces shoot and kill at least an additional two Palestinians in raids across the West Bank, bringing the total number of Palestinians Israel killed in the West Bank over the weekend to at least four.
  • Israeli settlers launched a massive assault on the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyir, near Ramallah, that extended from Friday into Saturday, with settlers killing one Palestinian, burning 12 Palestinian homes and several cars in the village.
  • Israeli settlers burn down 15 Palestinian homes and 10 farms in the Nablus-area village of Duma.
  • One Israeli settler teen found dead in the occupied West Bank, with Israeli media reporting that his body was “discovered by a drone.”

Iran Says Retaliation “Concluded,” Warns Israel Against Counterattack

On Saturday night, Iran launched its retaliatory strike on Israel for Israel’s bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, which killed two senior Iranian generals and ten others. Tensions had been rising in the week preceding Iran’s eventual attack, as both Israel and Iran exchanged threats and conducted maneuvers in preparation for the escalation. However, Reuters had reported on Thursday that Iran’s foreign minister, Hussein Amir Abdellahian, informed Washington during a visit to Oman that Iran would conduct its response in a way that “avoids escalation,” and that another U.S. intelligence source said “Iran was very clear” that its retaliatory strike would be “under control.”

As of the time of writing, Iran’s response has largely adhered to these statements. It launched between 250 to 300 drones in addition to ballistic and cruise missiles, “99%” of which were intercepted, according to Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari, who said that the Iranian attack had “failed.” Regional and international allies of Israel participated in downing and intercepting the aerial attacks, including the U.S., the UK, France, and Jordan.

The hundreds of drones and missiles could be seen in the skies above occupied Palestine and Israeli cities and settlements in the early morning hours of Sunday, which were intercepted by Israel’s air defense systems.

Videos on social media showed Israeli air defenses intercepting Iranian missiles in Jerusalem above Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, while other videos showed interceptions taking place in the skies of the occupied West Bank.

By 1 a.m. local time, the attack had concluded without incident.

While U.S. President Biden said that he condemned Iran’s attacks “in the strongest possible terms” and hailed Israel’s “remarkable capacity” to defeat “unprecedented attacks,” it is clear from previous Iranian statements that the intention of the Iranian retaliatory response was to remain contained and not offer Israel a pretext to widen the war.

This was further underscored by the statement of Iran’s Mission to the UN at 1:06 a.m. shortly after the attack, which asserted that Iran’s retaliation can now “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,” the statement added.

Reuters reported that the Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, Major General Muhammad Bagheri, had told Iranian state TV that “our operations are over and we have no intention to continue them,” indicating that Iran would for now remain satisfied with having “successfully targeted” two Israeli military bases.

For his part, President Biden told Netanyahu over a phone call that the U.S. would not support any Israeli counterattack, a senior official in the White House told Axios.

According to the White House official, Biden told Netanyahu to “take the win,” apparently signaling to Israel that further retaliations that might lead to a regional war would not be viewed favorably by the U.S.

The ball, therefore, remains firmly within Israel’s court regarding whether current hostilities might escalate into a regional war.

Israeli Settlers Rampage Across the West Bank, Committing Arson and Murder

An Israeli settler teenager from an illegal outpost in the West Bank was found dead on Friday just after settlers began to rampage through the village of al-Mughayyir northeast of Ramallah, in addition to the surrounding villages.

One 26-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed in al-Mughayyir on Friday, and at least 25 others were injured. The Palestinian martyr was identified as Jehad Abu Alia. It remains unclear whether he was killed by an Israeli soldier or settler gunfire. On Saturday, Israeli troops obstructed the movement of the ambulance carrying Abu Alia’s body for the funeral.

On the same day, settlers returned to al-Mughayyir and went on a rampage, setting over a dozen homes and cars on fire and firing live ammunition at people. At least six villagers were wounded, including one with a critical head injury.

Settlers also attacked other surrounding villages, including Duma, Beit Furik, and Qusra. Several Palestinians were injured with gunfire and dozens of homes were set on fire in Duma. According to Wafa, Israeli forces seized two houses in the town and turned them into field investigation centers, with forces searching several houses as settlers simultaneously attacked the village.

Later, on Saturday night, Israeli settlers attacked additional Palestinian villages, including the Palestinian town of Beitin outside of Ramallah and al-Bireh, where settlers killed a 17-year-old Palestinian boy, according to Wafa news agency. Armed Israeli settlers also raid the town of Sinjil, injuring 2 people with live fire.

In the Nablus area in the northern West Bank, settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles traveling on the roads around the city. At least one Palestinian was injured on a Nablus road by settlers throwing rocks.

Settlers also attacked the Ein al Hilweh area in the Jordan Valley, a small hamlet in the Hebron governorate in the southern West Bank, and areas around Qalqiliya, Salfit, al-Sawiya in the northern West Bank.

At least two Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military since Friday during raids in the town of Tubas and in al-Faraa refugee camp. The martyr of Tubas was claimed by Hamas as a member of its military wing.