After Iranian airstrike, U.S. support for Israel remains 'ironclad,' Biden says

Palestinians endeavor to salvage usable items from the rubble-strewn streets and buildings following months of Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on Saturday on April 13, 2024. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI.
1 of 4 | Palestinians endeavor to salvage usable items from the rubble-strewn streets and buildings following months of Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on Saturday on April 13, 2024. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI. | License Photo

April 14 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden says the United States' support for Israel remains "ironclad" following an attempted drone strike by Iran, while Israel faces international pressure to reduce the intensity of its attacks on Hamas.

Iran has said it will "exact a price" if Israel or any of its allies retaliate for the strike, in which Iran launched approximately 300 weapons -- 170 drones and over 120 ballistic missiles -- toward Israel late Saturday.


Israeli authorities said 99% of the weapons were intercepted with help from allies including the United States, Britain and France. A 7-year-old girl was reportedly wounded by shrapnel.

U.S. forces shot down more than 80 attack drones and at least six ballistic missiles, Central Command said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said after the attacks, "we have intercepted, we have contained. Together we shall win."


Israel's war cabinet, which has the authorization to respond to attacks, met Sunday. War cabinet member Benny Gantz said the "event is not over."

He called for the need to "build a regional coalition and exact a price from Iran, in a way and at a time that suits us."

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel had "thwarted this attack in a way that is unparalleled" and added, "we must be prepared for every scenario."

Hamas is a proxy for Iran in this war, and Iran's attack was predicted by U.S. intelligence hours before it happened.

An Israeli official separately told CNN that Israel will respond to Iran's attack, but the scope of that attack has not been determined. The official said Israel is deciding whether to "break all the dishes" or do something more measured in response.

Iran's retaliatory attack, which has been anticipated since a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic complex in Syria earlier this month, finally came late on Saturday.

Conflict between Israel and Iran has been simmering for years, and Iran's missile and drone launch marked the first time Tehran had initiated a direct assault on Israel from its soil.


Iran said Sunday a "new equation" in its relationship with Israel had been opened, and warned of a "much bigger" assault on the country should Netanyahu decide to retaliate.

"We have decided to create a new equation, which is that if from now on the Zionist regime attacks our interests, assets, officials and citizens, anywhere, and at any point we will retaliate against them," the Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami told Iranian state TV.

The "Zionist regime" is a term Iran uses to refer to Israel.

"If the Zionist regime responds, our next operation will be much bigger," Sardar Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran's Armed Forces, said.

Iran's attacks targeted the Israeli airbase from which, it said, the strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus was launched. Iranian ballistic missiles that reached Israel fell on the airbase in southern Israel, and caused slight structural damage, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

Bagheri said the military operation against Israel "has concluded." But he emphasized that Iranian armed forces remain on high alert and are prepared to "act if necessary," according to an interview on state IRINN TV on Sunday.


The five-hour-long attack Saturday threatened to draw other countries into the war between Israel and Hamas, which launched a surprise terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, killing more than 1,200 people.

Israel's unbridled retaliatory attacks have killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and has caused a humanitarian disaster in the enclave.

Officials have said the region is bordering on famine because food and aid supplies have been disrupted. An Israeli missile strike on Gaza earlier this month killed seven international workers from the World Food Kitchen, and the hostilities caused other humanitarian workers to back away from the region.

World leaders have called on Netanyahu for a cease-fire or a change in strategy in his attacks on Gaza, but he has so far turned a deaf ear to those pleas, vowing to destroy Hamas.

After the Saturday night attack, President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Netanyahu and made clear that the United States would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran, a senior White House administration official told CNN.

Biden told Netanyahu he should consider the events of Saturday night a "win," as Iran's attacks had been largely unsuccessful, and instead demonstrated Israel's "remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks."


Israel has told the United States that it's not "looking for a significant escalation with Iran," a senior Biden administration told reporters Sunday.

"They're looking to protect themselves and defend themselves," the official said.

"The president was very clear that we're going to help defend Israel, and he made very clear to the prime minister last night that we do have to think carefully and strategically about risks of escalation," the official added.

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