Report: Israel scrapped major Iran response after U.S. pressure

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Tel Nof Air Base, April 11, 2024. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

(JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backtracked on a pre-approved military response to Iran’s massive drone and missile attack due to pressure by U.S. President Joe Biden, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported on April 17.

Biden reportedly told Netanyahu during a phone call on April 13 that Washington would not participate in nor support an Israeli retaliatory attack.

According to the report, Netanyahu thereafter shelved a series of options that had already been approved by the Cabinet.

“The response won’t be what was planned, diplomatic sensitivities won out,” the report quoted a senior Israeli source as saying. Nevertheless, the source stressed that there would be some form of action against Iranian interests.

A U.S. official told ABC News that the Israeli response could now come after the Passover holiday, which begins the evening of April 22 and ends April 30.

The ABC report cited Israeli officials as saying that Jerusalem on two occasions this week dropped imminent plans to strike Iran.

Overnight on April 13, Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel. The IDF said it and its military allies intercepted some 99 percent of the projectiles.

On April 17, Netanyahu said that Israel would make its own decision on how to respond to Tehran’s unprecedented attack.

“I thank our friends for supporting Israel’s defense — support both in words and in deeds,” Netanyahu said ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

“They also have all kinds of suggestions and advice. I appreciate those, but I want to make it clear: We will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself,” he added.

Netanyahu addressed the government ministers shortly after meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Western governments have called on Israel to refrain from retaliating against Tehran, fearing the expansion of regional war.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog urged the international community to confront Iran, saying, “The whole world must work decisively and defiantly against the threat posed by the Iranian regime, which is seeking to undermine the stability of the entire region.”

Herzog reiterated the Jewish state’s “unequivocal” commitment to defending its people, including by working for “the immediate return home of all the hostages held in captivity by Hamas in Gaza.”

Unnamed Egyptian officials told the Qatari Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news outlet that the United States has agreed to back an Israeli operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah in exchange for foregoing a major strike in Iran.

Netanyahu reiterated on April 16 that the Hamas battalions in Rafah will be defeated, after the IDF announced the withdrawal of ground forces from the southern Gaza after four months of fighting in Khan Yunis and six months of war, leaving only one battalion left in the Strip.

“After what [Hamas] has done [on Oct. 7], it will not do this again. Neither will it exist,” the premier said.