West Braces For Iran's Retaliatory Strike On Israel Amid Fears Of Gaza Conflict Spreading

1 month ago

Last Updated: April 12, 2024, 16:20 IST

Paris, France

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, January 15. (Reuters/File Photo)

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, January 15. (Reuters/File Photo)

Western countries urge restraint amid tensions in the Middle East following Iranian threats over recent attacks on Israel. US restricts travel for embassy staff in Israel

The Western countries have urged restraint in the Middle East as they await the looming threat of an Iranian attack on Israel, in response to the April 1 airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus, which killed a top Iranian general and six other Iranian military officers.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack but Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei this week said the Jewish country “must be punished and it shall be”, saying it was tantamount to an attack on Iranian soil. Israel’s military in response asserted that it is prepared to defend the country and strike back if Iran retaliates for a deadly airstrike on the Iranian Consulate in Syria.

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High alert

Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip since an unprecedented attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel on October 7. It has also stepped up strikes against Iranian personnel and allies in Syria and Lebanon. It has traded near-daily cross-border fire with Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah since the start of the latest Gaza conflict. Several countries, including the US, are on high alert amid the growing tensions in the region which were already high due to the Gaza war.

Washington said on Thursday it had restricted its employees in Israel and their family members from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva areas.”Out of an abundance of caution, U.S. government employees and their family members are restricted from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv (including Herzliya, Netanya, and Even Yehuda), Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas until further notice,” the US embassy said in a security alert, on its website on Thursday. “US government personnel are authorised to transit between these three areas for personal travel.”

Meanwhile in Europe

The German airline Lufthansa, one of only two Western carriers flying to Tehran, extended a suspension of its flights to the Iranian capital and Russia warned against travel to the Middle East. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian to urge “maximum restraint” to avoid further escalation.

On Friday, France warned its citizens to “imperatively refrain from travel in the coming days to Iran, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories.” Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne issued the recommendation after Iran threatened reprisals over an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. As the West fears an escalation of violence in the Middle East, a report published by Reuters said that Tehran has signalled to Washington that it will respond to Israel’s attack on its Syrian embassy in a way that aims to avoid major escalation.

Iran’s Message to US

Tehran’s message to Washington was conveyed by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, during a visit on Sunday to the Gulf Arab state of Oman, which has often acted as an intermediary between the two, the report said citing Iranian sources. However, other sources, according to the report, did not rule out the possibility that members of the Iran-backed Axis of Resistance could attack Israel at any moment – an option analysts have flagged as one possible means of reprisal.

According to the report, Amirabdollahian, in his Oman meetings, signalled Tehran’s willingness to de-escalate on condition demands are met, including a permanent Gaza ceasefire – something Israel has ruled out as it seeks to crush Hamas. Iran also sought assurances that the United States would not get involved in the event of a “controlled attack” on Israel by Iran – a demand which the United States rejected in a response delivered via Oman, the report added.

(With agency inputs)

Rohit

Rohit is sub-editor at News18.com and covers international news. He previously worked with Asian News (ANI). He is interested in world a

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