Iran should be ‘on edge’, says Netanyahu, as Israel considers response to weekend attack

Action against Tehran would be met with ‘severe, widespread and painful response’, says Iranian president

An Israeli response to Iran’s weekend rocket and drone attack appears increasingly likely, with a strike on Tehran’s regional proxies the most likely option in the belief that avoiding a direct attack on Iranian territory will prevent further escalation.

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told ministers from his Likud party that Israel would retaliate for the Iranian attack but that this had to be done judiciously. “The Iranians are the ones who need to be on edge, just as they caused us to be on edge,” Mr Netanyahu said.

His comments came despite pressure on Israel from western leaders to show restraint.

Israelis were divided on the need to respond. A poll on Tuesday found that 52 per cent of Israelis believed their country should hold fire.


According to the US news network NBC, US officials expect a limited Israeli response to Iran’s launch of more than 330 rockets and drones. American officials told the network that a response would probably involve strikes outside Iran on Iranian proxies. Attacks on weapons facilities or shipments sent from Iran to Hizbullah or a strike in Syria were possible options.

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday that Tehran would respond to an Israeli attack. “We categorically declare that the smallest action against Iranian interests will certainly be met with a severe, widespread and painful response against any perpetrator,” he said.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, said Tehran’s counteroffensive following any Israeli retaliation would be “a matter of seconds as Iran will not wait for another 12 days to respond”, in reference to time taken by Iran to respond to the attack on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus, attributed to Israel.

His comments came after Israel’s top general Lieut Gen Herzi Halevi, said Iran’s attack on Israel warranted a response.

Foreign minister Yisrael Katz said he was “leading a diplomatic offensive against Iran” and called on the international community to impose sanctions on Iran’s missile programme and declare the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organisation.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog chief has expressed concern that Israel may target Iranian nuclear facilities. International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi said Tehran closed its nuclear installations on Sunday over “security considerations” and while they reopened on Monday, the agency’s inspectors were kept away.

While attention remained focused on the danger of an escalation in the Israel-Iran crisis, Israel’s assault on Gaza continued. Its air force attacked dozens of Hamas targets, including military buildings, tunnels and rocket launchers, in central and northern Gaza, according to the Israeli military spokesman.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 33,800 Palestinians have been killed since the Gaza war began. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 253 hostages seized in the surprise Hamas-led attack on October 7th. It says 133 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, though it is not known how many are alive.

Israeli media reported that the country’s air force had planned to drop leaflets this week instructing the residents of the southern Gaza city of Rafah to evacuate but the plan was aborted at the last minute for fear it would undermine the international support for Israel that has followed Iran’s weekend attack.

Israeli protesters succeeded in blocking the passage of aid lorries from Jordan to Gaza for six hours on Tuesday morning. The protesters want an end to the humanitarian assistance until all the Israeli hostages are released.

Cross-border fire on Israel’s northern border also continues. Israel says it killed the commander of Hizbullah’s coastal region in a pinpoint air strike on a car near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre. Hizbullah said it hit an Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile battery close to the border.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem