Egypt’s foreign minister, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, discuss humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip

Special Egypt’s foreign minister, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, discuss humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip
Sameh Shoukry meets with Mirjana Spoljaric Egger in Geneva. (X/@MfaEgypt)
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Updated 27 February 2024
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Egypt’s foreign minister, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, discuss humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip

Egypt’s foreign minister, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, discuss humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip
  • ICRC president briefed Sameh Shoukry on the organization’s assessments of the conditions endured by Palestinians in the various regions inside Gaza
  • Mirjana Spoljaric Egger spoke of the high number of civilian casualties, including medical and humanitarian personnel, in the Gaza Strip

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry met the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Mirjana Spoljaric Egger on the sidelines of Geneva meetings of the high-level segment of the Human Rights Council and the Conference on Disarmament.

The meeting looked at the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and the ICRC president briefed Shoukry on the organization’s assessments of the conditions endured by Palestinians in the various regions inside Gaza. She spoke of the high number of civilian casualties, including medical and humanitarian personnel, in the Gaza Strip. 

Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesman at Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the discussions also addressed talks related to reaching a new deal in the region, enforcing de-escalation, and swapping hostages and detainees.

Shoukry stressed the necessity of halting Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians and avoiding escalation and more bloodshed during the month of Ramadan, noting the repercussions of expanding the cycle of violence and the security dangers of exacerbating the situation inside the occupied Palestinian territories and in the region.

Shoukry paid tribute to the important role played by the ICRC within the framework of neutrality and independence to provide support and protection to Palestinian civilians.

He stressed the necessity for international parties to act toward halting Israeli violations against Palestinians, in compliance with the provisions of international humanitarian law and within the framework of Israel’s obligations as the occupying power and in a manner that required the issue of a Security Council resolution enforcing a ceasefire.

He spoke of the full implementation of Security Council Resolution No. 2720 for the provision of humanitarian and relief aid to the population of the Gaza Strip, including northern Gaza.

Spoljaric Egger expressed her appreciation of the pivotal role played by Egypt since the beginning of the crisis in attempting to contain the repercussions of the violence while endeavoring to put an end to it.

She spoke of the existing cooperation between the Egyptian Red Crescent and international relief organizations and agencies to provide and deliver urgent humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip.

She affirmed her support of continued coordination with the Egyptian side to help alleviate the humanitarian suffering of Palestinians.


Iran says ‘concluded’ retaliation against Israel, summons Western envoys

Iran says ‘concluded’ retaliation against Israel, summons Western envoys
Updated 3 sec ago
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Iran says ‘concluded’ retaliation against Israel, summons Western envoys

Iran says ‘concluded’ retaliation against Israel, summons Western envoys
  • Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi warns Israel and its allies against any ‘reckless’ actions after Tehran’s drone and missile attack
TEHRAN: Iran on Sunday urged Israel not to retaliate militarily to an unprecedented attack overnight, which Tehran presented as a justified response to a deadly strike on its consulate building in Damascus.
“The matter can be deemed concluded,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said in a post on social media platform X just a few hours after the start of the operation late Saturday.
“However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission warned.
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi warned Sunday Israel and its allies against any “reckless” actions after Tehran’s drone and missile attack, which marked the first time Iran has launched a direct military assault on Israeli territory.
“If the Zionist regime (Israel) or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Raisi said in a statement.
After numerous countries condemned the attack, Tehran’s foreign ministry summoned the French, British, and German ambassadors “following the irresponsible positions of certain officials of these countries regarding Iran’s response,” a statement said.
Late Saturday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps announced that they had launched “dozens of drones and missiles” toward military sites on Israeli territory.
“Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus” earlier this month, the Iranian mission to the UN said, dubbing it “legitimate defense.”
Israel’s army said it had shot 99 percent of the drones and missiles with the help of the United States and other allies, declaring Iran’s attack “foiled.”
The Iranian army chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri said the attack has “achieved all its objectives.”
Bagheri said Iran’s retaliation targeted an “intelligence center” and the air base from which Tehran says the Israeli F-35 jets took off to strike the Damascus consulate on April 1.
“Both these centers were significantly destroyed and put out of order,” he said, though Israel maintains that the attack only resulted in minor damage.
“There is no intention to continue this operation,” he said.
Experts have suggested that Saturday’s slow-moving drone attack was calibrated to represent a show of power but also allow some wiggle room.
“It appears that Iran telegraphed its attack on Israel to demonstrate it can strike using different capabilities, to complicate the (Israeli army’s) ability to neutralize the assault but also to provide an off-ramp to pause escalation,” said Nishank Motwani, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Washington.
“Tehran can escalate if it chooses to across a range of vectors,” said Motwani, including via Lebanon’s Iran-backed armed group Hezbollah, sea attacks, “or hitting soft Israeli targets globally.”
Over the last two weeks, the Iranian authorities had repeatedly vowed to “punish” Israel after the death of seven Guards including two generals of the Quds Force in the attack that levelled the Iranian consulate in Damascus.
Iran has blamed Israel for the attack.
In the days after the strike, Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel will be “slapped for that action.”
Since a revolution in 1979 in Iran which toppled the US-backed Shah, Israel has been the sworn enemy of the Islamic republic.
Iran has often called for the destruction of Israel, with support of the Palestinian cause one of the pillars of the Islamic revolution.
However, until Saturday Tehran had also refrained from a direct attack on Israel.
Instead, it has backed members of the so-called “Axis of Resistance” against Israel, including Hezbollah and Yemen’s Tehran-aligned Houthi rebels, since the outbreak of war in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7.
Hours before the strikes on Saturday, Iran seized an Israeli-linked container ship in the Gulf which Washington called “an act of piracy.”
During the night, Tehran also warned the United States, urging it to “stay away” from its conflict with Israel.
“If necessary,” Tehran “will not hesitate to take defensive measures to protect its interests against any aggressive military action,” Iran’s foreign ministry said.
“The next slap will be fiercer,” warned a new mural unveiled overnight in Tehran’s Palestine Square, where several thousands gathered, shouting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”
Before Tehran launched its attack, Israel warned Iran that it would suffer “the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”
Israel has not revealed what a potential response would look like.
An Israeli attack on Iran’s territory, possibly targeting military or nuclear sites, could not be ruled out, according to experts.
As a precaution, Iran’s Imam Khomeini international airport and the Mehrabad airport, which is mainly dedicated to domestic flights, will remain closed until Monday at 06:00 am (0230 GMT), according to ISNA news agency.
Several international airlines have suspended flights over Iranian airspace.
Countries including Russia and France have asked their citizens to avoid traveling to Iran and Israel.

Iraq PM arrives in Washington

Iraq PM arrives in Washington
Updated 53 min 38 sec ago
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Iraq PM arrives in Washington

Iraq PM arrives in Washington

Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday embarking on an official visit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden.

Discussions during Al-Sudani's visit will encompass various aspects of the bilateral relationship between the US and Iraq, including security and defense partnership and economic ties.

This emphasis on economic cooperation comes amidst ongoing negotiations between Washington and Baghdad concerning the future of the US-led military coalition in Iraq. As both parties engage in dialogue, the visit presents a significant opportunity to bolster economic collaboration and deepen the longstanding ties between the United States and Iraq.


Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks
Updated 46 min 53 sec ago
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Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks
  • Jordan’s state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities
  • Tehran’s Mehrabad airport and airports in several other Iranian cities have canceled domestic flights

CAIRO: Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon have reopened their airspace on Sunday after closing it late on Saturday as Iran launched drone and missile attacks against Israel, the three countries said on Sunday.

Jordan’s state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities. The opening of its airspace came more than three hours earlier than scheduled. 

Jordan announced the closure of its airspace to all incoming, departing, and transiting flights temporarily starting from 20:00 UTC, 11:00pm local time on Saturday, for several hours. 

The commission said at the time that the decision was taken to ensure the security and safety of civil aviation in the Jordanian airspace.

Iraq’s aviation authority said security risks had now been overcome.

Many flying objects were spotted over Jordan with images and videos circulated on social media showing air-defense systems shooting them down over the capital Amman and the northwestern regions on the borders with Syria and Israel.

Following a cabinet meeting early on Sunday, Jordanian government called for self-restraint and de-escalation, the Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported.

The government also said that Jordan dealt with some “flying objects” over the Kingdom on Sunday night and shot them down, adding that some shrapnels fell on uninhabited areas and no injuries were reported.

Lebanon said its airport will resume its activities after the overnight closure, state TV reported.

Tehran’s Mehrabad airport and airports in several other Iranian cities have canceled domestic flights until Monday morning due to Middle East tensions, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Sunday, as the country’s western airspace remains off limits to flights.

Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday — its first direct attack on Israeli territory in a retaliatory strike that raises the threat of wider regional conflict.

Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defenses to intercept any drones or missiles that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

Iranian airports cancel flights until Monday morning

Several Iranian airports including Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International have canceled flights until Monday, Iranian state media reported on Sunday, as tensions flared in the Middle East with Iran’s attack on Israel overnight.

“All flights from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport have been canceled until 6 a.m. (0230 GMT) following an announcement by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization,” the airport’s executive told the Iranian Student News Agency.
Domestic flights from Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport and airports in Shiraz, Isfahan, Bushehr, Kerman, Ilam, and Sanandaj have also been canceled until Monday morning, according to Iran’s Airports and Air Navigation Company, as the country’s western airspace remains off limits to flights.
Major airlines across the Middle East have announced the cancelation of some of their flights, while having to reroute others.

 


Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow

Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow
Updated 14 April 2024
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Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow

Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow
  • Iran had relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and US targets in a show of support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas
  • Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday his country would achieve victory after the military said it shot down almost all the more than 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran in a sharp escalation of the Middle East conflict.
Tehran’s attacks late on Saturday, launched after a suspected Israeli air strike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that killed officers of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.
Iran had relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and US targets in a show of support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza war with Israel, which shows no sign of easing despite numerous mediations efforts.
“We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Netanyahu posted on X.
The Israeli military said the armed forces had shot down more than 99 percent of the Iranian drones and missiles and were discussing follow-up options.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.
The war in Gaza, which Israel invaded after an attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Oct. 7, has ratcheted up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi warned Sunday Israel and its allies against any “reckless” actions after Tehran’s drone and missile attack in retaliation for a deadly strike on its Damascus consulate.

“If the Zionist regime (Israel) or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Raisi said in a statement.

’Push toward escalation'
Iran’s most powerful ally in the region, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah — which has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began — said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.
Drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has attacked shipping lanes in an around the Red Sea to show solidarity with Hamas, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement.
Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. Regional power Egypt urged “utmost restraint.”
Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, called Iran’s actions “very grave,” telling a televised briefing they “push the region toward escalation.”
Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, including more than 10 cruise missiles, and most were intercepted outside Israeli borders, Hagari said.
The Iranian salvo caused light damage to one Israeli military facility, he said.
The Israeli military said it was not advising residents to prepare to take shelter, revising an earlier alert in an apparent signal of the end of the threat.
UN Security Council to meet
Iran had vowed retaliation for what it called the Israeli strike on its embassy compound that killed seven Revolutionary Guard officers, including two senior commanders. Tehran said its strike was punishment for “Israeli crimes.” Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.
“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the US to “stay away.” However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded.”
US President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Iran’s brazen attack.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect US forces and support defense of Israel.
The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran’s attack and designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.
Iran’s Fars news agency quoted a source as saying Tehran was closely watching Jordan, which might become the next target is case of any moves in support of Israel.
Israel and Lebanon said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night. Israel reopened its airspace at 0430 GMT on Sunday, its airports authority said. Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defenses to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.
Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.
Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defense systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.
The European Union, Britain, Japan, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Mexico, the Netherlands and Norway condemned Iran’s attack.


Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel with hundreds of drones, missiles

Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel with hundreds of drones, missiles
Updated 14 April 2024
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Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel with hundreds of drones, missiles

Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel with hundreds of drones, missiles
  • Iran launches first ever direct attack on Israel, risking major escalation as US pledges support for Tel Aviv
  • Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1

JERUSALEM/DUBAI: Iran launched a swarm of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first ever direct attack on Israeli territory, risking a major escalation as the United States pledged “ironclad” backing for Israel.
Sirens wailed and journalists in Israel said they heard distant heavy thuds and bangs from what local media called aerial interceptions of explosive drones. The ambulance service said there was no immediate word of casualties.
Israel’s military said more than 100 drones were launched from Iran, with security sources in Iraq and Jordan reporting dozens seen flying overhead and US officials saying the US military had shot some down.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.

Iran’s state news agency cited a source saying its military had also launched a wave of ballistic missiles. Israel’s military also said missiles were fired, but there was no immediate report of these striking in Israel.
Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven Guards officers including two senior commanders and said its strike was a punishment for “Israeli crimes.” Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.
“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the US to “stay away.” However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded.”
US President Joe Biden, who on Friday had warned Iran against an attack, cut short a visit to his home state of Delaware to meet national security advisers in the White House Situation Room, an official said. He pledged to stand with Israel.
The Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, now in its seventh month, has driven up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.
British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement that drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group.
Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter the United States, with regional power Egypt urging “utmost restraint.”
US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Channel 12 reported. Three US officials said the US military had shot down drone aircraft without saying how many.

Escalation
“This is a severe and dangerous escalation. Our defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness ahead of this large-scale attack from Iran,” said Israel’s military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose official jet took off shortly after the attack began, convened the war cabinet at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said.
Israel’s military said sirens would sound in any threatened areas and that its defenses were poised to deal with the drones, which it said were “explosive.”
“We are used to having around 20 seconds to get to shelters when missiles come in. Here, the warning comes hours ahead of time. It naturally raises the anxiety level among the Israeli public,” said Nir Dvori, a Channel 12 TV correspondent on social media.
Israel’s military told residents of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to stay close to bomb shelters, putting the area on standby for possible impact from drone strikes.
Israel and Lebanon said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night. Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defenses to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.
Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.
Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defense systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.

Condemnation
The European Union, Britain, France, Mexico, Czechia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands all condemned Iran’s attack.
Israel has been bracing for an Iranian response to the Damascus consulate strike since last week, when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel “must be punished and shall be” for an operation he called equivalent to one on Iranian soil.
Biden said on Friday that his only message to Iran was “Don’t,” but added that “we are devoted to the defense of Israel.”
Iran’s main ally in the region, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah that has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7, said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries.
MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.
MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.

'IRGC seize commercial ship'

For days, Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have threatened to “slap” Israel for its Syria strike.
Iran has largely avoided directly attacking Israel, despite its targeted killings of nuclear scientists and sabotage campaigns on Iran’s atomic sites. Iran has targeted Israeli or Jewish-linked sites through proxy forces.
Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip has inflamed decade-old tensions in the Middle East, and any new attack threatens to escalate that conflict into a wider regional war.
Flight-tracking data showed the airspace over Jordan empty, while few flights continued on their north-south routes over Iraq. A sole Middle East Airlines flight from Dubai to Beirut remained airborne over Syria.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported heavy Israeli airstrikes and shelling on multiple locations in south Lebanon following the launch of drones from Iran. The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been clashing with Israeli forces in the border area for more than six months.
Earlier Saturday, commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled from a helicopter onto an Israeli-affiliated container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel.
Iran’s state-run IRNA said a special forces unit of the Guard’s navy carried out the attack on the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime.
Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Zodiac declined to comment and referred questions to MSC. Geneva-based MSC acknowledged the seizure and said 25 crew members were on the ship.
“We are working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel,” MSC said.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the crew was made up of Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian nationals and urged Iran to release them and the vessel.
IRNA said the Guard would take the vessel into Iranian territorial waters.
A Middle East defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, provided video of the attack to The Associated Press in which Iranian commandos are seen rappelling onto a stack of containers on the vessel’s deck.
The video corresponded with known details of the MSC Aries. The commandos rappelled from what appeared to be a Soviet-era Mil Mi-17 helicopter, which both the Guard and the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen have used before to raid ships.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on nations to list the Guard as a terrorist organization. Iran “is a criminal regime that supports Hamas’ crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law,” Katz said.
The US, Israel’s main backer, has stood by the country despite growing concerns over Israel’s war on Gaza killing more than 33,600 Palestinians and wounding over 76,200 more. Israel’s war began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage.
The Pentagon said Saturday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart “to discuss urgent regional threats ... and made clear that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.” National security adviser Jake Sullivan also spoke with his counterpart to reinforce Washington’s “ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”