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Biden condemns Iran attack on Israel, will convene G7 leaders

President Joe Biden condemned Iran for its attack on Israel Saturday night, saying he denounced the attacks “in the strongest possible terms.”

Iran launched an attack toward Israel late Saturday with “more than 200 UAVs, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles,” Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said.

Biden had returned to Washington, D.C., from Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, earlier on Saturday to meet in the White House Situation Room with national security advisers as the situation unfolded.

“At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” Biden said in the statement Saturday night. “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.” 

President Joe Biden met with national security advisers and top U.S. officials amid the Iranian attack on Israel on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in the White House Situation Room. (White House)

On Friday afternoon, the president had told reporters he expected a retaliatory attack from Iran “sooner than later” following the missile strike on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1 that killed a top Iranian general, but he did not provide specifics: “We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel and help defend Israel, and Iran will not succeed.”

Israel has not publicly claimed responsibility for the missile strike, but it was preparing for an attack from Iran leading up to Saturday. 

Biden also said he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone Saturday evening to “reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”  

“I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks — sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel,” he said.

However, Biden reportedly told Netanyahu that the U.S. will oppose any Israeli counterattack on Iran, a senior White House official told Axios.  

“You got a win. Take the win,” Biden said, according to the official, noting that the joint Israeli and allied defenses led to the failure of Iran’s attack.

“During the last few hours, dozens of hostile aircraft were identified and intercepted, along with dozens of cruise missiles that made their way to Israel from Iran,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel Defense Forces spokesman.

Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, Sunday, April 14, 2024. Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday. The Israeli military says Iran fired more than 100 bomb-carrying drones toward Israel. Hours later, Iran announced it had also launched much more destructive ballistic missiles. (AP Photo/Tomer Neuberg)

“A few injuries were detected, among them at a military base in the south of the country with minor damage to the infrastructure,” he added. “IDF forces are deployed in all the arenas, prepared and continue to defend the territory of the country.”

Biden added that he will be convening the G7 leaders to coordinate a response on Sunday. 

“My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders,” he said. “And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people.”

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Erdan also requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in a letter sent to  Security Council President Vanessa Frazier on Sunday to “designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.”

The U.N. Security Council was reportedly set to meet at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday to address the attack. 

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