Feedback | Monday, May 27, 2024

Tehran plays down reported Israeli attacks, signals no further retaliation

Explosions echoed over an Iranian city on Friday in what sources described as an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation – a response that appeared gauged towards averting region-wide war.
 
The limited scale of the attack and Iran’s muted response both appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working round the clock to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel last Saturday.
 
Iranian media and officials described a small number of explosions, which they said resulted from Iran’s air defences hitting three drones over the city of Isfahan. Notably, they referred to the incident as an attack by “infiltrators”, rather than by Israel, obviating the need for retaliation.
 
An Iranian official told Reuters there were no plans to respond against Israel for the incident.
 
“The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack,” the official said.
 
Israel said nothing about the incident. It had said for days it was planning to retaliate against Iran for Saturday’s strikes, the first ever direct attack on Israel by Iran in decades of shadow war waged by proxies which has escalated throughout the Middle East through six months of battle in Gaza.
 
The two longstanding foes had been heading towards direct confrontation since a presumed Israeli airstrike on April 1 that destroyed a building in Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus and killed several Iranian officers including a top general.
 
Iran’s response, with a direct attack on Israel, was unprecedented but caused no deaths and only minor damage because Israel and its allies shot down hundreds of missiles and drones.
 
Allies including the United States had since been pressing hard to ensure any further retaliation would be calibrated not to provoke a spiral of hostilities. The British and German foreign ministers visited Jerusalem this week, and Western countries tightened sanctions on Iran to mollify Israel.
 
In a sign of pressure within Israel’s hard-right government for a stronger response, Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right national security minister tweeted a single word after Friday’s strikes: “Feeble!”.
 
Countries around the world called on Friday for both sides to avert further escalation.
 
“It is absolutely necessary that the region remains stable and that all sides restrain from further action,” EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said. Similar calls came from Beijing and from Arab states in the region.
 
In financial markets, global shares eased, oil prices surged and U.S. bond yields fell as traders worried about the risks.
 
(Reuters)
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Last Updated: 27th May 2024