Unified Israeli coalition demands retaliation against Iran

Cabinet members echoed support for a harsh retaliatory strike on Iran.

By Amelie Botbol, Akiva Van Koningsveld, JNS

Jerusalem has “no other option but to retaliate” after the Islamic Republic of Iran dispatched hundreds of missiles and suicide drones towards Israel, Likud lawmaker Danny Danon told JNS on Sunday.

“I think we experienced an unprecedented attack by Iran against Israel,” said Danon, who also served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. between 2015 and 2020. “Not retaliating would be irresponsible.”

Israel’s War Cabinet is set to convene on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. local time to discuss the country’s response to Saturday night’s Iranian attack, which saw over 300 drones and missiles launched at the Jewish state.

“In the next few hours, the decision will be made on where, when and how we respond,” Danon told JNS early Sunday afternoon.

Danon’s call to restore deterrence vis-a-vis Iran was echoed by other members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party.

Lawmaker Boaz Bismuth, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that Iran’s attack proved that Israel was not isolated and made stark the contrast between good and evil.

“In the last few months, we heard repeatedly that Israel is isolated, that its western allies were turning their backs on us and that Sunni Arab countries were doing the same,” he told JNS.

“Yet, last night, which was difficult, was in fact an opportunity to reinforce [relations] as it became obvious who is good and who is evil. Last night, it became clear that Israel is on the side of the good,” explained Bismuth.

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The lawmaker emphasized that deterrence was “key” in the Middle East, noting that “the Houthis won’t be replaced by Austrians, Hezbollah will never be Switzerland or Hamas [anything like] France.

“Today the world, and more importantly the enemy, saw that Israel has amazing capacities. Iran understands that those who have such amazing defensive systems have even better means of attack,” he concluded.

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch, also a member of the Likud Party, noted in a statement cited by Hebrew media that “it is time to go on the attack, with coolness and discretion.

“The actions of the Air Force, the air defenses, the cooperation with the U.S. and regional actors resulted in an impressive containment of the Iranian attack,” added Kisch.

Discussions over an appropriate response come against the backdrop of American pressure to not retaliate amid fears of a regional war.

U.S. President Joe Biden reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Saturday that his administration will not support offensive action against the regime in Tehran.

According to a The New York Times report that cited two officials in Jerusalem, the Israeli government abandoned the option of a retaliatory strike on Iranian territory following the conversation between the two leaders, in part because the attack “caused relatively minor damage.”

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A 7-year-old Israeli Bedouin girl injured in the attacks underwent surgery Sunday for a serious head wound and remains in critical condition.