US officials felt ‘mounting alarm’ during Iran’s attack against Israel

‘No one had ever tried to intercept so many ballistic missiles at once before.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

In the tense hours of Saturday night April 13, Biden Administration officials sat in the Situation Room with “mounting alarm” as they saw Iran’s anticipated yet unprecedented attack on Israel grow in scale from 30 to 60 to 100 ballistic missiles, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.

The U.S. had been bracing for an attack against Israel but feared the coordinated attack of drones and missiles could overwhelm Israel’s defense capabilities and cause an escalation of the current conflict into a wider conflagration involving the U.S. and the entire Middle East.

One Senior White House official reported that “the results of the defenses were unclear until all was said and done.”

The 19-day crisis began when an airstrike killed an IRGC Quds Force general in Damascus on April 1st.

On the same day, the IDF accidentally killed seven World Central Kitchen charity workers in Gaza.

Relations between Israel and the US were at a low point, with the Biden Administration criticizing Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s determination to operate in Rafah, insisting that more humanitarian aid reach Gazans, and expressing horror over the accidental killing of the World Central Kitchen Aid workers.

In addition, the strike against Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi in Damascus caught the U.S. entirely by surprise.

As Iran threatened Israel following the attack and said that it “would not remain unanswered,” American officials feared Iran proxies may attack US military targets in the region.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that he was displeased that Gallant had not mentioned Israel’s plans to strike in Syria during a meeting at the Pentagon they held a week earlier.

Failing to get the United Nations Security Council to condemn the airstrike that killed Zahedi, Iran kept up its threats against Israel.

The U.S. and Israel were both on high alert, and Austin ordered the USS Carney to turn around and join the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke in the Mediterranean.

Both destroyers were armed with SM-3 interceptors that hadn’t been used before to shoot down ballistic missiles.

As US military personnel arrived in Tel Aviv, F-15E fighter jets also made the trip to Israel, and Saudi Arabia and Jordan were primed to defend their airspace.

USS Eisenhower, which was already in the Red Sea to combat the Houthis, was moved closer to Israel.

US and other officials implored Iran not to strike Israel but to no avail.

US intelligence predicted initially that Iran would be satisfied by striking Israel through proxies, such as Hezbollah or the Houthis, or would hit Israel’s diplomatic sites abroad.

However, a lack of response from Iran indicated the attack would be massive and would be directly on Israeli soil.

U.S. Middle East commander, Gen. Erik Kurilla arrived in Israel on April 11.

With Biden Administration officials gathered in the Situation Room, the Pentagon detected three waves of attacks.

“This was on the high end, I think, of what we were—what we were anticipating,” a senior official said.

The first launch of 150 attack drones, one of the largest used simultaneously in combat, would arrive in Israel in 5 to 7 hours and was coordinated with 30 land-attack cruise missiles that would make the trip in 2 to 3 hours.

They were scheduled to arrive at the same time and overwhelm Israel’s defenses.

The Iranians aimed at the Nevatim base in the Negev Desert, where Israel’s advanced F-35 fighters are based.

General Kurilla, Israel’s military, and allies coordinated a defense that thwarted 99% of Iran’s attacks.

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The defense was historic, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “No one had ever tried to intercept so many ballistic missiles at once before.”

“Washington thought its and Israeli forces could handle 50 ballistic missiles, but more than 100 was unknown territory.”

By Sunday, the combined force of Israel, the U.S., the U.K. and Jordan had intercepted more than 400 Iranian missiles and drones.