Israel calls for tightened sanctions on Iran as government debates response to attack

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Israel’s war cabinet is to meet later on Tuesday for a third straight day to consider its response to Iran’s weekend attack, as international pressure mounts on the Jewish state to show restraint and avoid triggering a full-blown Middle East conflict.

The five-person war cabinet has already discussed possible responses including military and diplomatic options, one Israeli government official said, while taking into account US concerns that any action should “not be over the top”.

However, the person added, Israel was determined to respond to what it saw as an unprecedented Iranian attack, which included more than 300 missiles and drones launched from Iranian territory at the Jewish state late on Saturday night.

“The intent is to send a painful message to Iran. This can’t be something cosmetic,” the person said, adding that in order to be effective the response had to be carried out “in close proximity” to the Iranian attack.

Israel’s military chief, Herzi Halevi, on Monday night also appeared to indicate that there would be an Israeli retaliation. “We are looking ahead and weighing our [next] steps, and this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response,” he said.

US and European allies have stepped up efforts to dissuade Israel from striking back against Iran.

Iran’s attack, the first ever directly launched from its territory against Israel, came in response to a suspected Israeli strike earlier this month on its consulate in Damascus that killed several senior Iranian commanders.

Israel and a US-led international coalition of regional partners intercepted “99 per cent” of the projectiles launched by Iran, according to the Israeli military, causing minimal damage to an air base in the country’s south but critically injuring a young girl.

Israel’s western allies have urged the country to respond in a measured way.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak both said on Monday that western countries were preparing sanctions on Tehran following Saturday’s attack.

The US and UK have also made clear that they will not participate in any retaliatory strike.

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