Iran launches dozens of drones at Israel

Iran has launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel, according to the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Al Jazeera reports.

The IRGC said on Saturday it has released the drones and missiles under the operation “True Promise”, adding that the move is part of punishment for the “Israeli crimes”.

Syria put on high alert its Russian-made Pantsir ground-to-air defence systems around the capital Damascus and major bases in the event of an Israeli strike, army sources told the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, Iraq, Jordan and Israel announced that they closed their air space.

The development comes nearly two weeks after an Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria killed seven IRGC members.

“Iran launched UAVs from its territory towards the territory of the state of Israel,” Israel’s army’s spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said late on Saturday.

“We are on high alert and readiness,” he added, speaking in a televised address, saying the drones would take several hours before reaching Israel’s airspace.

Israel has been on heightened alert since its strike on Damascus on April 1, even though it did not comment on the attack. Iran vowed revenge and a retaliatory attack has been expected.

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President Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israel was prepared for a “direct attack from Iran”.

And Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel was “closely monitoring a planned attack” against it by Iran and its allies in the region.

Washington said Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel that is likely to unfold over a number of hours.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement that President Joe Biden is regularly updated by his national security team and is in constant communication with Israeli officials, US partners, and allies.

‘A country waiting’

Earlier on Saturday, Iranian armed forces seized a container ship linked to Israel near the Strait of Hormuz.

“We know that planes are patrolling in the skies above [Israel], we know that Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with his war cabinets, his security cabinets this evening,” said Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

“We understand that they are considering shutting down the Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv for the whole country. So this is a country… waiting for those drones arrive.”

Challands said that although Haggari did not confirm how long the drones would take to arrive, “it will have to go through several countries’ airspace … They could take about nine hours to arrive.”

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