The Israeli Defense Cabinet is holding a heated discussion about how to respond to the Iranian attack, Israeli officials say

The Israeli Defense Cabinet is holding a heated discussion about how to respond to the Iranian attack, Israeli officials say


Tel Aviv, Israel
CNN

Israel's war cabinet is engaged in a heated debate over how and when to respond to Iran's weekend attack on their country, two Israeli officials familiar with the deliberations told CNN.

The officials said the war cabinet remains determined to respond to the Iranian attack, but as it meets Monday afternoon, its members continue to debate the timing and scope of that response. In addition to a possible military response, the war cabinet is also considering diplomatic options to further isolate Iran on the world stage.

Two Israeli officials said that Benny Gantz, a key member of the war cabinet, pushed for a faster response to the Iranian attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refrained from making a decision.

The sources said that Gantz believes that the longer Israel delays its response to the Iranian attack, the more difficult it will be to mobilize international support for such an attack. Several countries have already warned Israel against escalating the situation further through military response.

The Government of Israel recognizes that the country currently enjoys international support and good will from its allies and does not want to squander this. At the same time, the government realizes that it cannot allow the first Iranian attack on Israeli territory to go unanswered.

An Israeli official said that among the military options being considered, the war government is considering an attack on an Iranian facility that would send a message, but avoid causing casualties.

But Israeli officials realize that this will be difficult, hence the ongoing controversy. The timing of the decision remains unclear.

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Netanyahu is facing international pressure to calm the tense situation after the Iranian attack over the weekend, which saw the launching of more than 300 missiles towards Israel, the vast majority of which were intercepted by Israel and its partners.

The attack was in response to a suspected Israeli raid on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month, killing at least seven officials, including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, the top commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji. My mercy.

An Israeli official said that an hours-long military cabinet meeting ended on Sunday without a decision being made on how Israel would respond to the Iranian attack.

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

Biden told Netanyahu that he should consider Saturday night's events a “victory” because the Iranian attacks were largely unsuccessful, and instead demonstrated Israel's “remarkable ability to defend against and defeat unprecedented attacks.”

But Gantz on Sunday urged the need to “build a regional alliance and collect a price from Iran in a way and at a time that suits us.”

Israel and Iran have long been rivals, but tensions have risen in the wake of Hamas attacks on Israel, which left about 1,200 people dead. Iran supports a network of proxies across the Middle East who have repeatedly clashed with Israel since the attacks.

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