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Iran launches drones at Israel in retaliatory attack

Iran Saturday launched drones at Israel, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said, appearing to mark a widely anticipated reprisal attack.

The IDF said the wave could take hours to reach Israel, a distance of 1,100 miles (1,800km).
It said Israeli forces were on high alert and “monitoring all targets”.

Iran had vowed to retaliate after an attack on its consulate in Syria on 1 April – for which it blamed Israel – killed several Iranian commanders.

Most airspace in the region were closed throwing airports into chaos.

Shortly before news of Iran’s drone launch, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s “defensive systems” were deployed.

“We are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong.”We appreciate the US standing alongside Israel, as well as the support of Britain, France and many other countries.”

Netanyahu was also convening his war cabinet tonight, according to local media reports.

The US president had been due to spend the weekend in Delaware at his residence in Rehoboth Beach but early on Saturday afternoon set off at short notice to return to the White House.

Israel and the United States have braced for an Iranian attack since an Israeli strike earlier this month killed seven people, including two senior members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Damascus
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The United States is worried a counterattack might also target U.S. troops in the Middle East and began last week to dispatch more ships and warplanes to the region.

Earlier Saturday, Revolutionary Guard naval forces seized the MSC Aries, an Israeli-affiliated ship near the Strait of Hormuz and diverted the vessel to Iranian territorial waters. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, shared footage showing a person rappelling from a helicopter to board a ship, which it said was Portuguese-flagged and “connected to” Israel.

The Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) confirmed that the MSC Aries vessel was “boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter” as the ship passed the Strait of Hormuz and has been diverted toward Iran.

The company chartered the vessel, which is owned by Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of shipping company Zodiac Maritime. The latter is owned in part by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

“Israeli-owned shipping is advised to reconsider transiting the Strait of Hormuz,” British marine safety firm Ambrey said in a note.

But even as Israel faced threats from abroad, turmoil also erupted at home, with settlers on Saturday rampaging violently across parts of the occupied West Bank. The groups, angered over the death of an Israeli teen, who the IDF said was murdered by “terrorists,” stormed Palestinian villages, burned homes, and attacked motorists, killing one man in the village of al-Mughayyir.

By Agencies

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