Israel needs to ‘think carefully’ about risks of escalation, U.S. warns

U.S President Joe Biden
U.S President Joe Biden


U.S. President, Joe Biden, has urged Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to carefully consider any Israeli retaliatory strike against Iran and the consequences this might have, sources in Washington have said.

This was according to a telephone conversation between the two leaders on Saturday evening, Biden made it “very clear’’ to Netanyahu that he needed to “think carefully and strategically about risks of escalation.’’

A senior U.S. government official said this in Washington on Sunday evening.

“This is something that is constantly being discussed with the Israeli side and other allies, the official said, noting that Biden also made it clear that the U.S. would help Israel to defend itself.

Israel had made it clear to the U.S. government in the past talks that it was not looking for a significant escalation with Iran, the government representative said.

Iran’s direct attack on Israel at the weekend was fuelling fears of a conflagration in the Middle East.

The International efforts were already being made on Sunday to defuse the situation.

Biden and fellow leaders of the seven leading democratic industrialised countries (G7) discussed the crisis and condemned the large-scale attack in the strongest possible terms.

“We don’t want to see this escalate. We are not looking for a major war with Iran,’’ John Kirby, communications director of the U.S. government’s National Security Council, said.

He added that the U.S. president had been clear he was not seeking war with Iran.

The U.S. would continue to help Israel defend itself, Kirby said, but said that how Israel responded now would be up to them.

The U.S. has been Israel’s staunchest ally and biggest military supporter and has repeatedly reiterated its support as tensions escalated between Israel and Iran.

It was unclear on Sunday whether Israel would respond to Iran’s unprecedented direct attack the previous day, which, according to Israeli sources, involved some 300 missiles and drones.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that its forces in the Red Sea area had shot down scores of drones and missiles headed for Israel.

“U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces, supported by U.S. European Command destroyers, successfully engaged and destroyed more than 80 one-way attack unscrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAV).

“At least six ballistic missiles intended to strike Israel from Iran and Yemen,’’ a statement said.

“This includes a ballistic missile on its launcher vehicle and seven UAVs destroyed on the ground in Iranian-backed Houthi controlled areas of Yemen prior to their launch.’’

Iran’s “Operation Truthful Promise’’ was mounted in revenge for an airstrike on its embassy grounds in Damascus on April 1, in which two generals and others were killed.

Israel is believed to have carried out the attack and has not denied responsibility.

Israel has been Iran’s declared arch-enemy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The decades-old tensions between the two countries have escalated following the outbreak of the Gaza war in October. (dpa/NAN)


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