GAt a quarter to two o'clock on Sunday night the warning sirens sounded at the Dead Sea. Alarms were also raised in Jerusalem and the southern part of the West Bank, northern Israel and parts of the Negev Desert in the south. Detonations were heard in the air in Jerusalem and several other cities. The Iranian attack on Israel, which had been a threat for days, had begun. The regime in Tehran wanted to retaliate for the killing of a high-ranking commander of the Revolutionary Guard, who died in Damascus a week and a half ago, in an attack allegedly initiated by Israel.

Christian Meier

Political correspondent for the Middle East and Northeast Africa.

Army spokesman Daniel Hagari appeared in front of the camera at three o'clock. The attack was a “massive escalation,” he said. “Iran carried out a large-scale coordinated attack on Israel tonight.” A “massive swarm” of “killer drones” and missiles of various types were fired. Tehran has “sent more than 300 threats of various kinds,” Hagari said on Sunday morning. Israel intercepted 99 percent of the flying objects and projectiles in cooperation with its allies.

“Zero penetration into Israeli territory”

“The Iranian threat has met Israeli air and technological superiority, combined with a strong, combative coalition that has collectively intercepted the majority of threats.” Hagari spoke of a “very significant strategic success.” Of the 170 unmanned aerial vehicles that Iran has sent, “zero have penetrated Israeli territory.” Dozens were shot down by Israeli fighter jets, by Israeli air defense and “the air force and air defense of our partners.” Of the more than 30 cruise missiles that Iran fired, none entered Israel.

“Out of more than 120 ballistic missiles, only a few reached Israel and the rest were intercepted,” Hagari continued. “They struck in the area of ​​the Nevatim air base and only caused minor damage to the infrastructure.” The base continues to function normally. Iran thought it had been able to paralyze the base.

Most of the missiles and drones appear to have been destroyed outside Israeli territory. The United States and Great Britain said they had taken part in the countermeasures. Jordan is also said to have shot down dozens of Iranian drones over its territory before they reached Israel, media reports said. According to Hagari, there was only minor damage to a military base in Israel. There were no deaths; a little girl was wounded.

Iranians cheer the Iranian attack on Israel in front of the British Embassy in Tehran on Sunday night.

Iranians cheer the Iranian attack on Israel in front of the British Embassy in Tehran on Sunday night.

Image: EPA

The situation had developed dramatically in the previous hours. At around 11 p.m. local time on Saturday evening, the Israeli army confirmed that Iran had launched “unmanned aerial vehicles from its territory toward the territory of the State of Israel.” The army has been put on high alert and is monitoring all targets, it said. Shortly afterwards, Iranian media spread a message from the Revolutionary Guard: an attack on Israel had been launched with “dozens of drones and missiles”.

Army spokesman Hagari said in an initial statement around midnight that this was a “serious and dangerous escalation”. The Israeli missile defense is “fully functional” and the army will defend the country and its people with all its strength. Residents of the Golan Heights in the north and southern regions have been ordered to stay near bunkers or shelters.

The Israeli war cabinet met in Tel Aviv. Around the same time in Washington, Joe Biden summoned senior members of the National Security Council to the White House Situation Room to discuss the situation. A Security Council spokeswoman reiterated the president's position that his support for Israel's security is “irrequivocal.” “The United States will stand by the Israeli people and support them in their defense against these threats from Iran.” On his flight to China, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also condemned the Iranian attack “in the strongest terms.”

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