Israel Vows to Punish Iran as Spiral of Vengeance Deepens

Abir Sultan/AFP via Getty Images
Abir Sultan/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli military’s chief of staff Herzi Halevi told troops on Monday that Israel “will respond” to Iran’s drone and missile attack as the threat of open warfare between the countries looms.

The announcement comes as Israel’s war cabinet convened for a second day to deliberate a retaliation strategy in response to a spate of attacks on Saturday evening, when Iran launched over 300 missiles and drones at Israel. The attack was largely thwarted, according to Israeli forces, who intercepted the strikes with help from the United States, Jordan, the U.K., and France.

Tehran’s attack—conducted as punishment for the assassination of a top Iranian commander killed in a strike on a Syrian embassy in recent days—injured a child, but otherwise caused moderate damage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opted for a response that would “send a message” to Iran but not cause casualties, such as a cyberattack or an attack on an Iranian facility, The Washington Post reported. “Everybody agrees that Israel must respond,” one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Post. “How to respond, when to respond, is the question.”

World leaders have encouraged Israel to reconsider retaliating against Iran. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Monday the U.K. does not support retaliation. French President Emmanuel Macron, too, is working to convince Israel against escalatory responses.

The Big Question: Will Israel Hit Back at Iran?

“The Middle East is on the brink. The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday.

The White House said that the Biden administration will not participate in any response to the Iranian attack. President Joe Biden has reportedly advised Netanyahu to “slow things down” after the Iranian attack, rather than ramp things up.

Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have been working behind the scenes to urge Israel against escalating even further. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his counterpart in Israel three times over the weekend to emphasize that “the United States does not seek escalation,” according to a Pentagon readout of their calls. Secretary of State Tony Blinken has also spoken with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan to advocate against escalatory responses.

“Strength and wisdom need to be the… different sides of the same coin,” Blinken said in remarks on Monday.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim, who held a meeting with Blinken on Monday, called on Iran and Israel to exercise “self-restraint.”

“We hope escalations and tensions in the area will end. The Government of Iraq is warning about escalation and the area to be dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety,” Tamim said Monday.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.