Netanyahu declares Israel will defend itself amid calls for restraint

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed aside calls for restraint in its conflict with Iran and declared that Israel would prioritize defending itself, Reuters reported.

“I want to make it clear – we will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself,” Netanyahu said. 

The statement comes amid pleas from countries from around the world for Israel not to retaliate after a tumultuous April for the two countries.

Iran’s embassy in Damascus, Syria, was hit with an airstrike on April 1. Sixteen people were killed in the attack, including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and several Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers, according to reports. Tehran claimed Israel was behind the attack, and multiple news publications from around the world also blamed Israel. The Israeli government declined to comment on the matter.

Iran retaliated against Israel with Operation True Promise on April 13 in a series of drone and missile strikes.

“Operation True Promise was a limited and not a comprehensive measure. If we had carried out a stronger operation, nothing would then have been left out of Israel,” said Ebrahim Raisi, President of Iran.

It is estimated that 300 drones and missiles were deployed in Iran’s response. Nearly all of them were intercepted and neutralized causing only minimal damage, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

A young girl under ten years old was “severely injured by shrapnel” stemming from the attacks, said Hagari. No other additional victims were reported.

“The Iranian threat met the aerial and technological superiority of the IDF, along with a strong fighting coalition — which together intercepted the overwhelming majority of the threats. 99% of the threats launched towards Israeli territory were intercepted — a very significant strategic achievement,” Hagari said.

Amid the increase in hostilities tensions, leaders of countries from around the globe have urged restraint from both Iran and Israel. Several leaders have called for Netanyahu to help defuse the situation by standing down.

Annalena Baerbock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, and David Cameron, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs for Great Britain, traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu in an attempt to cool tensions in the region, Reuters reported. Their objective was to persuade Netanyahu not to retaliate. 

Previously, Cameron voiced his concern that Israel would retaliate for Operation True Promise. He warned against such a strike, saying it would not be beneficial in any way. Cameron claimed that it 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,” Reuters reported.

Jordan, the Middle Eastern country located between Iraq and Israel, also urged for diplomacy, warning that escalation could lead to a “devastating” full-blown war.

“The risks are enormous. That could drag the whole region into war, which would be devastating to us in the region and have very, very serious implications for the rest of the world, including the U.S.,” said Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. “The situation is too dangerous. The chances of regional explosion are real, and that has got to stop.”

“We’ve got to make sure there’s no further escalation,” Safadi said.

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