Iran warns Israel of ‘massive, harsh’ response President Ebrahim Raisi

TEHRAN. – Iran’s president has warned that the “tiniest invasion” by Israel would bring a “massive and harsh” response, as the region braces for potential Israeli retaliation after Iran’s attack over the weekend.

President Ebrahim Raisi spoke Wednesday at an annual army parade that was relocated to a barracks north of the capital, Tehran, from its usual venue on a highway in the city’s southern outskirts. Iranian authorities gave no explanation for its relocation, and state TV did not broadcast it live, as it has in previous years.

Iran launched hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel over the weekend in response to an apparent Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy compound in Syria on April 1 that killed 12 people, including two Iranian generals.

Israel, with help from the United States, the United Kingdom, neighboring Jordan and other nations, successfully intercepted nearly all the missiles and drones.

Tensions in the region have increased since Israel started bombarding Palestine on October 7.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday Israel will make its own decisions about how to defend itself, as Western countries pleaded for restraint in responding to a volley of attacks from Iran.

The US, European Union and G7 group of industrialised nations all announced plans to consider tighter sanctions on Iran, seen as aimed at mollifying Israel and persuading it to rein in its retaliation for the first ever direct Iranian strikes after decades of confrontation by proxy.

Iran attacked in retaliation for a suspected Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1. Israel and its allies mostly shot down all missiles and drones and there were no deaths, but Israel says it must retaliate to preserve the credibility of its deterrents. Iran says it views the matter as closed but will retaliate again if Israel does.

Netanyahu met the German and British foreign ministers, who both travelled to Israel as part of a coordinated push to keep confrontation between Israel and Iran from escalating into a regional conflict fueled by the Gaza war.

Netanyahu’s office said he thanked Annalena Baerbock and David Cameron for their support, while telling them: “I want to make it clear – we will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself.”

Earlier, Cameron said it was now apparent Israel planned to retaliate for the Iranian missile and drone strikes, which Tehran launched on Saturday in response to a presumed Israeli airstrike that killed military officers at its embassy in Syria.

Baerbock said escalation “would serve no one, not Israel’s security, not the many dozens of hostages still in the hands of Hamas, not the suffering population of Gaza, not the many people in Iran who are themselves suffering under the regime…”

More than six months into the Gaza war between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas that has seen flare-ups across the Middle East, diplomats are searching for a way to avert direct battle between Israel and Iran.

Washington says it is planning to impose new sanctions targeting Iran’s missile and drone programme in coming days and expects its allies will follow suit.

EU leaders were due to discuss sanctions at summit in Brussels, as were G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy.

“We are in favour of sanctions that can also target all those who help manufacture drones and missiles that were used in the attacks last Saturday and Sunday,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in Brussels.

Inside Gaza, Israel has launched a massive air and ground assault, with nearly 34 000 people confirmed killed, according to Palestinian medics, and thousands of others feared dead, still lost among the ruins.

Apart from a single week of ceasefire in November when around half of the hostages were freed, diplomats have so far failed to hammer out terms for a truce. – Agencies

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