Israel’s military chief says that Israel will respond to Iran’s weekend missile attack


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s military chief said Monday that his country will respond to Iran’s weekend attack, but he did not elaborate on when and how.

The Iranian attack on Saturday came in response to a suspected Israeli strike two weeks earlier on an Iranian consular building in the Syrian capital of Damascus that killed two Iranian generals. It marked the first time Iran has launched a direct military assault on Israel despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran launched hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles at Israel in the attack. The Israeli military said that 99% of the drones and missiles were intercepted by Israel's air defenses and warplanes and in coordination with a U.S.-led coalition of partners.

Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Monday that Israel is considering its next steps but that the Iranian strike “will be met with a response.”

Halevi gave no details. The army's spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Israel will respond “at the time that we choose.”

Both men spoke at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, which Hagari said suffered only light damage in the Iranian attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been huddling with top officials to discuss a possible response. For a second straight day, the government made no announcements on any decisions.

In a conversation with U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Netanyahu said that “Israel will do whatever is required to defend itself,” the prime minister's office announced.

The U.S. has urged Israel to show restraint as it seeks to build a broad diplomatic response.

The U.S. also has been working in recent years to strengthen ties between Israel and moderate Arab states in an alliance to counter Iran.

Much of that cooperation has been under the umbrella of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East. Centcom works closely with militaries across the region, including Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

The U.S., Britain and Jordan — a key American ally in the region — have all said their air forces helped intercept the Iranian missiles and drones. Halevi said France and “other partners” were involved, and he noted that “Iran’s attack has created new opportunities for cooperation in the Middle East.”

The Iranian weapons also flew through Saudi skies, according to a map released by the Israeli military. Israel says most of the interceptions took place outside of Israeli airspace, indicating at least tacit cooperation with the Saudis.