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Anticipating Israel’s Response to Iran Strikes: U.S. Officials Foresee Limited Action

Israel and Iran war

U.S. officials have indicated that any potential Israeli response to Iran’s recent attack is expected to be of a limited nature, primarily targeting Iranian military forces and their proxies outside Iran. This assessment follows conversations between American and Israeli officials conducted before Iran’s retaliatory strike over the weekend, which saw over 300 drones and missiles launched at Israel. Prior to the attack, Israeli officials had briefed their U.S. counterparts on various response options in anticipation of a potential Iranian strike. However, U.S. officials emphasize that they have not been formally briefed on Israel’s final decision regarding its response, and the situation remains fluid.

While President Joe Biden and other leaders have urged restraint, Israel has pledged to retaliate against Iran’s attack, which was in response to an Israeli strike on an Iranian consular building in Syria on April 1. The severity of Israel’s response options had been discussed beforehand, ranging from modest actions to more extensive attacks resulting in casualties and infrastructure damage. Given that the Iranian strike did not result in Israeli fatalities or significant destruction, U.S. officials speculate that Israel may opt for a less aggressive response, such as strikes outside Iran. Potential targets could include sites in Syria, focusing on shipments or storage facilities containing advanced missile components destined for Hezbollah.

The United States does not plan to participate in Israel’s military response but expects to be informed beforehand, particularly if there are potential repercussions for American interests in the region. An Israeli official hinted at an imminent response during a meeting of Israel’s war Cabinet, noting the importance of acting swiftly following the attack. Various diplomatic and military options were reportedly discussed during the meeting.

Although the U.S. and other allies assisted Israel in intercepting the majority of incoming drones and missiles, President Biden has reiterated that the U.S. will not engage in offensive operations against Iran. Amidst condemnation of the strikes, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for maximum restraint to prevent further escalation in the region. Israel’s representative to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, asserted Israel’s right to retaliate, while Iran maintains its actions were in self-defense and warns of further measures to protect its interests.

As tensions persist, the world watches closely, hoping for a de-escalation of hostilities and a return to stability in the volatile Middle East.