Israel Weighs Response to Iran Attack: Middle East Live Updates

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Diplomats on Tuesday were pushing to temper any Israeli retaliation against Iran, seeking to head off an escalation and broader confrontation following Tehran’s weekend attack.

Israel’s war cabinet, some of whose members met again on Tuesday, has been weighing how to respond to Iran’s large-scale missile and drone assault. Several options — ranging from diplomacy to an imminent strike — are being considered, according to an Israeli official briefed on the cabinet discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters.

Amid concerns over what actions Israel might take, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss ways to calm the tensions. Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, who met with her Jordanian counterpart in Berlin, said she would fly to Israel later on Tuesday and would discuss with officials there “how to prevent further escalation with more and more violence.”

Ms. Baerbock told a news conference that it was critical that “we all work together to contribute to de-escalation for the entire region.”

As U.S. and European leaders try to find ways to punish Iran for the attack without fueling a wider Middle East war, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, said on Tuesday that he was “leading a diplomatic offensive” and had written to dozens of governments calling for more sanctions against Tehran. But he said that such penalties should come “alongside the military response,” without specifying what that could mean.

The United States is one of several of Israel’s allies that have strongly urged restraint, underscoring the pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government faces to avoid a more direct confrontation with Iran. On Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, that the United States’ support for Israel’s defense remained “steadfast” and he “reaffirmed the strategic goal of regional stability,” according to the Pentagon.

Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant met with key members of the war cabinet for security consultations on Tuesday afternoon without many of the observers who normally attend, according to an Israeli official briefed on the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive deliberations.

Since Iran’s attack, Mr. Netanyahu has not commented publicly on the discussions around a response. But on Tuesday he described the war against Hamas, the Iranian-backed group Israel is fighting in Gaza, as part of “a greater campaign” that includes battling Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia.

“Iran stands behind Hamas, behind Hezbollah and behind others,” he told military recruits. “But we are determined to win there, and to defend ourselves in all sectors.”

Iranian officials — who have said the weekend assault was retaliation for a deadly April 1 strike on an Iranian Embassy building in Syria — have warned that Iran will forcefully respond to any Israeli attack. The rhetoric from Tehran, which in the immediate aftermath of its attack called the matter with Israel closed, has intensified as Israel weighs its options.

Iranian state news media on Tuesday was peppered with strong language from officials, vowing “painful” and “crushing” responses to any Israeli retaliation.

There also have been calls for Iran to avoid any escalation. Japan’s foreign minister, Yoko Kamikawa, spoke to her Iranian counterpart on Tuesday to urge Tehran to “exercise restraint,” according to a Japanese government statement.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, spoke on the phone with Iran’s foreign minister on Monday, according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Mr. Wang relayed that “Iran can handle the situation well and spare the region further turmoil while safeguarding its own sovereignty and dignity,” Xinhua reported.

Christopher F. Schuetze and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

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