Israeli response to Iran attack could be ‘imminent’

Jerusalem's War Cabinet discussed military responses designed to inflict pain on the Tehran regime while avoiding the expansion of a regional war


Israeli war cabinet meets at the Kirya in Tel Aviv

Israel might carry out a retaliatory attack on Iran as early as Monday night, three U.S. and Western officials told The Wall Street Journal, as Jerusalem's War Cabinet wrapped up discussions on "painful" responses to the Islamic Republic's drone and missile assault.

The War Cabinet discussed several possible military responses, with each of them designed to inflict pain on the Iranian regime while avoiding the expansion of a regional war.

The ministers also decided to explore options that the Biden administration would not block.

President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call on Saturday that Washington would not support an Israeli retaliatory attack. "You got a win. Take the win," Biden said, according to reports that cited senior White House officials.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of the War Cabinet, told his American counterpart on Sunday night that the Jewish state had no choice but to respond to Saturday night's unprecedented aerial attacks.

The Walla news site, citing a senior American official and a source privy to the conversation, reported that Gallant stressed to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that Jerusalem could not accept a reality in which ballistic missiles are fired at Israeli territory without repercussions.

Overnight Saturday, the Islamic Republic launched more than 300 drones and missiles at the Jewish state in a direct attack. The IDF said that Israel and its partners, including the United States, intercepted some 99% of the projectiles, calling it a "significant strategic achievement" and noting that none of the 170 drones sent by Tehran penetrated Israeli territory.

The War Cabinet on Sunday endorsed striking back, although it was divided on the scope and timing of the response. Ahead of the meeting, Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz vowed to "exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us." Gallant said the assault created an opportunity to establish an international anti-Iran coalition.

The War Cabinet—which includes Netanyahu, Gallant and Gantz, in addition to three observers—will reconvene on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu invited opposition leaders Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party, Avigdor Liberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party and Gideon Sa'ar of the New Hope Party for an unscheduled security briefing at his office.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Netanyahu abandoned the option of launching a swift strike on Iranian territory following the call with Biden. According to the Times, the decision was made in part because the Iranian attacks "caused relatively minor damage."

An Israeli Bedouin girl wounded in the Iranian assault underwent surgery Sunday for a severe head wound and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

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