Live updates: US works to prevent escalation across Mideast, Biden pushes Israel to show restraint

Israel hailed the success of its defenses in the face of an unprecedented attack by Iran of more than 300 drones and missiles

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, April 15, 2024
Fallout from Iran's drone, missile attack in Israel
Alison Kosik has more on the crisis in the Middle East.

JERUSALEM (WABC) -- The United States on Sunday highlighted its role in helping Israel thwart Iran's aerial attack as President Joe Biden convened leaders of the Group of Seven countries in an effort to prevent a wider regional escalation and coordinate a global rebuke of Tehran.

The U.S. assisted Israel in shooting down dozens of drones and missiles fired by Iran on Saturday in what was the first time it had launched a direct military assault on Israel. Israeli authorities said 99% of the inbound weapons were shot down without causing any significant damage.

Martha Raddatz has more.

U.S. officials said that despite the high interception rate, Iran's intent was to "destroy and cause casualties" and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an "uncontrollable" escalation across the Mideast. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an effort to contain tensions, that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran, and the president made "very clear" to Netanyahu "that we do have to think carefully and strategically" about risks of escalation.

The push to encourage Israel to show restraint mirrored ongoing American efforts to curtail Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza, which is now in its seventh month, and to do more to protect civilian lives in the territory.

While the U.S. and its allies were preparing for days for such an attack, the launches were at the "high end" of what was anticipated, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.


Information from Eyewitness News, ABC News and the Associated Press

President Biden and Jordanian King Abdulla II speak on the phone

President Joe Biden and Jordanian King Abdullah II spoke on the phone Sunday about Iran's attack on Israel, according to the White House.

The two leaders discussed Iran's "unprecedented attack" on Israel, the White House said without elaborating.

Earlier Sunday, Biden met with G7 leaders, who jointly condemned Iran's attack on Israel.

"We, the Leaders of the G7, unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms Iran's direct and unprecedented attack against Israel. Iran fired hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel. Israel, with the help of its partners, defeated the attack," the G7 leaders said in a joint statement.

The statement added, "We express our full solidarity and support to Israel and its people and reaffirm our commitment towards its security."

Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger reports from Israel on the conflict and New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan visit to the region this week.

Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks Israel

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon have reopened their airspaces following Iran's attack on Israel, though some restrictions remain in the region.

"At 8:15 a.m., the Authority reopened the Kingdom's airspace to air traffic after re-evaluating the risks according to national and international standards for the safety and security of civil aviation," the Jordan Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission said in an X post, formerly Twitter.

Lebanese state TV announced the Beirut Airport will resume operations.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority said the airspace had reopened after "overcoming all risks that affect the security and safety of civil aviation in Iraq."

Biden meets with G7 leaders to discuss Iran attack

President Joe Biden met with G7 leaders Sunday, where they condemned Iran's attack and affirmed their support for Israel, the White House said.

"President Biden spoke by secure video with the leaders of the G7 today," the White House said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. "The leaders condemned Iran's unprecedented attack against Israel and reaffirmed the G7's commitment to Israel's security.

Pope prays for calm in the Middle East after Iran attacks Israel

Pope Francis expressed concern Sunday over escalating violence in the Middle East and prayed the situation doesn't lead to an "even greater war conflict."

During his noontime prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, the pope said, "I am following in prayer and concern, even sorrow, the news that has come in the recent hours of the worsening of the situation because of intervention by Iran."

"I make a heartfelt appeal for a halt to any action that could feed a spiral of violence with the risk of dragging the Middle East into an even greater conflict," Pope Francis said.

UN holds emergency meeting, Tri-State ramps up security after Iran's attack on Israel

The United Nations is holding an emergency meeting in New York to address international concerns following Iran's retaliatory attack on Israel.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will address members of the UN Security Council during a meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday, a spokesperson for the organization said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

In the meantime, New York City law enforcement is ramping up security measures in light of the attack.

City and state leaders say there are no credible threats at this time.

INTERVIEW | Former FBI Special Agent weighs in on NYC security concerns

Former FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel discusses security measures New York City may take following the attack on Israel.

Iranian president warns of 'heavier' response if Israel strikes again

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi claimed Sunday that Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned of a "heavier" response to "any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation."

Iran said Israel was targeted in retaliation for its strike earlier this month on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria, that killed a top Iranian military leader.

"Following the instructions of Imam Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, and with the support of the proud nation and the powerful armed forces of Islamic Iran, I emphasize that any new adventure against the interests of the Iranian nation will be responded with a heavier and regrettable response from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Raisi said.

10-year-old hit by shrapnel, IDF says

A 10-year-old girl injured in Iran's attack on Israel is reportedly the only casualty of the airstrikes, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday.

The girl was "severely injured by shrapnel," apparently from an intercepted missile, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

"We wish her a speedy recovery," Hagari said. "Other than her, as far as we know, there are no additional casualties."

Iran launched 300 "threats of various types" at Israel on Saturday, Hagari said, including 170 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more than 120 ballistic missiles and over 30 cruise missiles.

INTERVIEW | Rabbi and Yeshiva University President discusses impact of Israel-Hamas conflict on education

Rabbi Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, discusses how the crisis in the Middle East is impacting college campuses.

Kirby says it's up to Israel on how to respond to attack

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told ABC's "Good Morning America" Sunday that any response to Iran's Saturday night attack is up to Israeli forces.

But Kirby stressed that President Joe Biden does not want the situation to escalate or have the U.S. drawn further into any conflict.

When asked by ABC News' Whit Johnson about a response from Israel, Kirby said that it is up to the Israeli government to decide how to respond. He added that "the damage was extremely light," and the defenses in place proved Israel can defend itself.

"I won't speak for the Israelis. It's going to be up to them to decide whether and how they'll respond to this," Kirby said. "They showed last night, an incredible military capability on their own, but certainly in concert with friends."

When pressed about reports that Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. would oppose a counterattack on Iran, Kirby said it was "not an accurate reading" of the president's message. He emphasized that the White House does not "want to see the situation escalate further."

Iran says issue 'closed' after retaliatory strike on Israel

The Iranian envoy to the United Nations said Sunday that "the issue can be considered closed," referencing Iran's attack on Israel.

The envoy also warned the U.S. to "stay away" from the escalating conflict between the two countries.

"If the Israeli regime makes another mistake, the response of the Islamic Republic of Iran will be considerably more severe," the envoy said, referring to Israel's strike earlier this month on Iran's Consulate in Damascus, Syria, that killed a top Iranian military leader. "This is a conflict between Iran and the rogue regime of Israel, and America should stay away from it."

Iran's state news agency IRNA also reported Sunday that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) issued a stern warning to the U.S. "against supporting and participating in any action that harms Iranian interests. In its statement, the IRGC threatened "a reciprocal and proportional response to American and Israeli threats originating from any country."

INTERVIEW | Jewish National Fund bringing aid, coordinating volunteers in Israel

Deena Shiff, the USA chief of staff of the Jewish National Fund, discusses her organization's relief efforts.

Iran attack 'thwarted' but Israel says it's not over

Israeli military officials on Sunday said the Iranian attack had been "thwarted" by Israel and its allies, but warned that the threat of further strikes continued.

Most of the more than 300 drones, missiles and other threats Iran launched were intercepted by Israeli and allied defenses before entering Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

"99% of the threats launched towards Israeli territory were intercepted -- a very significant strategic achievement," IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

The military defense was coordinated with a group of international allies, including the United States, United Kingdom and France, Hagari said.

US Embassy in Jerusalem lifts shelter-in-place order

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem early on Sunday lifted its shelter-in-place order for US government employees after the threat from Iranian drones and missiles "diminished."

But the embassy warned that security in Israel "remains complex" and can change quickly.

Biden calls for G7 meeting

President Joe Biden said he would convene a meeting of the Group of Seven advanced democracies on Sunday "to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran's brazen attack."

The language indicated that the Biden administration does not want Iran's assault to spiral into a broader military conflict.

Blinken condemns attack

Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Iran's attack on Israel, saying the U.S. doesn't seek escalation but will support Israel's right to defend itself and will protect U.S. personnel in the Middle East.

"The United States condemns Iran's attack on Israel in the strongest terms," Blinken said in a statement.

He added that he'll be "consulting with allies and partners in the region and around the world in the hours and days ahead."

ABC News' Shannon K. Crawford

New York City, Tri-State on alert following attack

In New York, Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams say there are no credible threats, but law enforcement is on alert.

A security expert tells Eyewitness News that law enforcement will be keeping an eye on potential targets associated with New York's Jewish, Palestinian and Persian American communities - to keep Americans and New Yorkers safe.

Click here for reporting from Saturday, April 13, 2024

ABC News Special report as Iran attacks Israel:

ABC News Special Report as Iran launches attack on Israel


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.