U.N. experts call for de-escalation of tensions between Israel, Iran

Israel on Tuesday warned that Iran would "face the consequences" for its unprecedented missile and drone attack on Israel over the weekend. Photo via Israel Defense Forces/UPI
Israel on Tuesday warned that Iran would "face the consequences" for its unprecedented missile and drone attack on Israel over the weekend. Photo via Israel Defense Forces/UPI | License Photo

April 16 (UPI) -- United Nations human rights experts on Tuesday called for a de-escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran, as Israel said it was weighing a response to Iran missile and drone attack over the weekend.

The global experts, part of the U.N.'s Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, charged that the tit-for-tat attacks including Israel's attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria that killed two Iranian generals on April 1 along with Iran's retaliatory strikes on April 13 firing more than 300 rockets and drones at Israel, violate international law.


"All countries are prohibited from arbitrarily depriving individuals of their right to life in military operations abroad, including when countering terrorism," the experts said. "Killing in foreign territory is arbitrary when they are not authorized under international law."

The experts said Israel has yet to justify a self-defense attack on April 1 as it failed to provide evidence that Iran or its proxies were directly conducting an "armed attack" on Israel.


"Israel's attack consequently violated the prohibition on the use of armed force against another state under Article 2(4) of the [United Nations] Charter," they said. "Illegal force was used not only against Iran's armed forces but also against Syrian territory. Israel's attack was partly launched from the Golan Heights, which is illegally annexed Syrian territory."

They also said that Iran's response was prohibited under International law, noting that Israel's April 1 attack could have qualified as an "armed attack" on Iran but Iran had no right to self-defense in Saturday's missile and drone attack as "self defense is only lawful where it is necessary to stop a continuing armed attack" and Israel's attack ended on April 1.

The experts said the latest round of violence is fueled not just by recent acts but long decades of "impunity for violations of a most fundamental global rule: prohibition on the use of force." They also called on the U.N. Security Council to take action to secure peace in the region.

In the meantime, the Israel Defense Forces said that Iran would "face the consequences" for its unprecedented missile and drone attack on Israel over the weekend.

Emerging from a meeting of the war cabinet Monday night, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said in a video statement posted on X that the timing and scale of the response would be calibrated to best suit Israel's interests.


"We are closely assessing the situation and remain at our highest level of readiness. We will choose our response accordingly," Halevi said. "The IDF stands ready to respond to any threat from Iran and its terror proxies as we continue our mission to defend the state of Israel."

But Halevi spent the bulk of his two-minute briefing thanking and heaping praise on an American, British and French military coalition "activated across the skies of the Middle East" to counter Saturday's airborne assault and back up the IDF's "Iron Shield" defense strategy.

He said their joint defense systems activated in real time in the air, on the ground and at sea had intercepted the threats, causing Iran's attack to fail.

"Operation Iron Shield proved the strength of our iron-clad cooperation. I want to thank all our international partners who stood up to Iran's aggression," he said, adding that the attack had "created new opportunities for cooperation" in the Middle East.


That was followed by Foreign Minister Israel Katz announcing early Tuesday the launch of a parallel diplomatic "offensive" against Iran involving lobbying Israel's international partners including the United States, Britain, France, Canada and Australia for sanctions to undermine Iran's military machine.

"This morning I sent letters to 32 countries and spoke with dozens of foreign ministers and leading figures around the world calling for sanctions to be imposed on the Iranian missile project and that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be declared a terrorist organization, as a way to curb and weaken Iran," Katz wrote in a post on X. "Iran must be stopped now -- before it is too late."

Saturday's first-ever direct Iranian attack on Israel has already prompted movement in Western capitals -- most urging Israel to exercise restraint -- but also prompting renewed security guarantees including from U.S. President Joe Biden, vowing Monday to defend Israel.

"The United States is committed to Israel's security," Biden told White House reporters ahead of a meeting with Iraqi President Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani

"We're committed to a cease-fire that will bring the hostages home and prevent any conflict from spreading beyond what it already has."


Following a late-night closed-door GOP conference meeting Monday, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced representatives would vote this week on two separate aid packages for Israel and Ukraine, in response to "precipitating events around the globe."

The breakthrough follows months of delays in passing a $60 billion foreign aid supplemental funding package, which the Senate passed in February, in a row over funding in the bill for beefing up security on the U.S-Mexico border.

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