Netanyahu welcomes western support after Iran attack, insists Israel will decide own response

Israeli army continues push to divide north and south Gaza Strip as Palestinian death toll in enclave reaches 33,800

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has welcomed the support of western leaders in the wake of Iran’s rocket and drone attack at the weekend, but insisted Israel will determine its own response.

Israeli leaders say the launching of more than 350 projectiles from Iranian territory cannot be allowed to pass without a response, but Israel does not want to create a war of attrition with its arch enemy or possibly even an all-out regional war.

After meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday with the visiting German and British foreign ministers, Mr Netanyahu thanked them for their support but said: “I want to make it clear – we will make our own decisions, and Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself.”

British foreign secretary David Cameron said it was clear Israel intended to respond to the Iranian attack, adding that “we hope Israel acts in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible”.

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The US news network CBS reported that Washington expected the Israeli response to include a “limited strike” on Iranian territory.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has enacted “emergency measures” across Syria, evacuating some of its bases and leaving others manned only during daytime hours.

Iran said on Wednesday its military was ready to confront any attack by Israel. “Any attack by the Zionist regime on our soil will be dealt with a severe response,” president Ebrahim Raisi said at a parade held for the Islamic republic’s Army Day.

The commander of the Iranian air force warned at the same event that its warplanes, including Russian-made Sukhoi-24s, were in their “best state of preparedness” to counter any Israeli attack.

Iran’s navy is now escorting Iranian commercial ships to the Red Sea, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

On Israel’s northern border, five army reservists were seriously wounded when anti-tank missiles and drones hit the village of Arab al-Aramsha. Eighteen people were wounded, 14 of them soldiers. Hizbullah said the target was an Israeli military facility in the Arab village and the attack was in response to the Israeli killing of its commanders in Lebanon.

Israel’s offensive on Gaza continued, although with less intensity, as the army operated to deepen its control over the dividing line in Wadi Azza between northern and southern Gaza.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 33,800 Palestinians have been killed since the war began more than six months ago. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 253 hostages seized in the surprise Hamas-led attack on October 7th. It says 133 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, though it is not known how many are alive.

The United Nations says it is struggling to prevent famine in the coastal enclave and despite some improvement in co-ordination with Israel, aid deliveries were still facing difficulties. “There has been a steady increase of the number of trucks that have entered,” said Andrea De Domenico, head of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“The problem is it’s not just about food. The problem is that famine is much more complex ... it’s much bigger than simply bringing in flour. Water, sanitation and health are fundamental to curb famine.”

Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said talks on a Gaza ceasefire and a release of hostages awere at a delicate stage. “We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block,” he said, without giving further details.

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