Israel is silent on the next steps against Iran – and on the partners who helped launch missiles


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack with hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a ” strategic action”.

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack with hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a ” strategic alliance” of the regional opposition against Tehran.

But Israel's war cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for signs of further escalation in the former shadow war.

The military coalition led by the United States, Britain and France, which appears to include several Middle Eastern countries, supported Israel at a time when it was isolated in Gaza because of its war against Hamas. The coalition could also serve as a model for regional relations when this war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.

It is unknown which of Israel's neighbors was involved in shooting down the vast majority of the approximately 350 drones and missiles fired by Iran. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member mentioned other “partners” without naming them. White House national security spokesman John Kirby also declined to name her when asked.

But one person appeared to be Jordan, who described his action as self-defense.

“It has been established that there is a real threat of Iranian incursions and missile strikes on Jordan, and the armed forces have addressed this threat. And if this threat came from Israel, Jordan would take the same measures,” the Jordanian foreign minister said Ayman al-Safadi in an interview on state television Al-Mamlaka. US President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday.

The United States has long sought to forge a regional alliance against Iran to integrate Israel and strengthen ties with the Arab world. The efforts included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and Israel's inclusion in the U.S. military's Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states works together.

The U.S. had worked to build comprehensive ties between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel's war in Gaza. The war, which has left over 33,700 Palestinians dead, has put those efforts on hold amid widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some cooperation has continued behind the scenes, and the White House is hopeful of forging Israeli-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Shortly before the Iranian attack, CENTCOM commander General Erik Kurilla visited Israel to strategize.

Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, thanked CENTCOM on Sunday for its joint defense efforts. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither admitted involvement in intercepting Iran's missile attacks, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles flying through both nations' airspace.

“Arab countries supported Israel in stopping the attack because they understand the need for a regional organization against Iran, otherwise they would be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military intelligence chief, wrote on X , formerly Twitter.

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to create an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat from Iran.”

The White House signaled it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before attacking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not take part in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel's War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made yet. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential.

When asked about retaliation plans, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are in full readiness on all fronts,” he said.

“We will form a regional coalition and take the prize from Iran in the way and at the time that suits us,” said Benny Gantz, a key war cabinet member.

Iran launched the attack in response to an attack widely attributed to Israel that hit an Iranian consulate building in Syria this month, killing two Iranian generals.

On Sunday morning, Iran said the attack had ended and Israel had reopened its airspace. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi claimed that Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventure against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a more violent and regrettable reaction from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The enemies have been waging a shadow war for years, but Sunday's attack was the first time Iran has launched a direct military attack on Israel, despite decades of hostility dating back to the country's Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Iran said it had targeted Israeli facilities involved in the attack in Damascus, telling the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalist.”

But U.S. officials said Iran's intent was to “cause destruction and casualties” and that if successful the attacks would have led to an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air and had only a few minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with only a few missiles getting through. An Israeli air base suffered minor damage.

Over the years, Israel has built a multi-layered air defense network, often with help from the United States, that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range missiles.

That system, along with cooperation from the United States and others, helped thwart a far more devastating attack at a time when Israel is already heavily involved in the Gaza Strip and is fighting light battles with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia on its northern border becomes. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are supported by Iran.

While repelling the Iranian attack could help restore Israel's image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East's best-equipped army does next is being watched closely in the region and in Western capitals – especially since Israel is trying to build the coalition it praised on Sunday.

In Washington, Biden pledged to bring allies together to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would hold talks with allies. After an emergency meeting, the Group of Seven unanimously condemned Iran's attack and said it was ready to take “further action.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel's war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. According to local health authorities, over 33,000 people have died in the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas welcomed Iran's attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the attack in Syria. It called on Iran-backed groups in the region to continue supporting Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the Gaza War broke out, Hezbollah began attacks on Israel's northern border. The two sides have been engaged in daily exchanges of fire while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have fired rockets at Israel.


Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

Tia Goldenberg and Josef Federman, The Associated Press