Biden pledges ‘ironclad’ support for Israel amid fears of Iran attack – BBC.com

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Biden pledges ‘ironclad’ support for Israel amid fears of Iran attack – BBC.com

  • By Max Matza and Will Vernon
  • BBC News

President Joe Biden has promised Israel “ironclad” support from the United States amid fears Tehran could launch retaliation after an attack that killed senior Iranian officials.

Mr Biden warned that Iran was threatening to launch a “significant attack” after Israel struck the Iranian consulate in Syria 10 days ago.

“We will do everything possible to protect Israel’s security,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Iranian leader said the Israeli attack in Damascus amounted to an attack on Iran itself.

“When they attacked our consulate area, it was as if they were attacking our territory,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech.

“The evil regime must be punished, and it will be punished.”

It is not yet clear what form any possible retaliation would take.

If Iran strikes Israel directly, it would risk an even greater escalation of the conflict, and analysts have said Iran lacks the military capacity for a meaningful confrontation.

A possible alternative would be an attack via an Iranian proxy like Hezbollah, which frequently carries out smaller strikes against Israel from neighboring Lebanon.

Experts have also suggested that Iran could target Israel with a cyberattack.

Thirteen people were killed in the April 1 attack on the Iranian consulate building, including senior Iranian military officials.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but is widely believed to be behind it.

Since then, American and Israeli forces in the region have been placed on high alert.

Mr. Biden’s remarks came as he spoke to reporters at the White House on Wednesday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“As I told Prime Minister Netanyahu, our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad – let me repeat, ironclad,” Mr. Biden said.

His comments came a day after Mr. Biden, in an interview, called for a ceasefire in Gaza and said he disagreed with Mr. Netanyahu’s war strategy.

“I think what he’s doing is wrong. I don’t agree with his approach,” he said in an interview with Univision recorded a week ago.

Video caption,

Watch: Biden says Netanyahu made ‘a mistake’ in Gaza

It also comes nearly a week after a tense phone call between Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu following Israel’s killing of seven aid workers in Gaza.

Mr. Biden sharpened his rhetoric over Israel’s conduct in the nearly six-month-old war sparked by the Hamas attack on October 7, and expressed growing frustration with Mr. Netanyahu.

American officials have tried to send a message to the Iranians that, despite differences of opinion between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu, any attack on Israel would be met with an aggressive response from the United States.

In an effort to ease tensions, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iraq spoke this week with their Iranian counterpart, according to Axios.

Ministers were asked to deliver a message from Mr Biden’s senior adviser on the Middle East, Brett McGurk, on the need for de-escalation.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, more than 33,000 people – mostly women and children – were killed during the Israeli incursion.

The conflict was sparked by Hamas’ killing of more than 1,200 people in Israel and the taking of 240 hostages during its October attack.

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