Israel attacks Iran, drones reported over Isfahan

April 19, 2024 by AAP
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Israel has launched an attack on Iranian soil, sources say, in the latest tit-for-tat exchange between the two arch-foes whose decades of shadow war have broken out into the open and threatened to drag the region deeper into conflict.

The Iran nuclear program’s heavy-water reactor at Arak. Credit: Nanking2012 via Wikimedia Commons.

Iranian media reported explosions early on Friday but an Iranian official told Reuters those were caused by air defence systems.

State media said three drones over the central city of Isfahan had been shot down.

Israel’s leadership and the military were silent early on Friday.

The United States received notification before Israel’s attack, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, which came days after Iran launched an unprecedented strike on Israel with a barrage of drones and missiles, most of which were shot down.

Washington and other global powers had pressed to Israel not to respond, or to ensure any further retaliation was limited to prevent a broader conflagration after the latest surge in violence was sparked by the air strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that was blamed on Israel.

That strike came against the backdrop of Iran’s support for the Palestinian Hamas militant group, whose assault into Israel on October 7 triggered Israel’s invasion of Gaza.


The senior Iranian official cast doubt on whether Israel was responsible.

“The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed,” the Iranian official said on condition of anonymity.

“We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack.”

In most official comments and news reports, there was no mention of Israel and state television carried analysts and pundits who appeared dismissive about the scale.Iranian state TV said on Friday that shortly after midnight “three drones were observed in the sky over Isfahan”.

“The air defence system became active and destroyed these drones in the sky,” it said.

Senior army commander Siavosh Mihandoust was quoted by state TV as saying air defence systems had targeted a “suspicious object”.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had warned Israel before Friday’s strike that Tehran would deliver a “severe response” to any attack on its territory.

Iran told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that Israel “must be compelled to stop any further military adventurism against our interests” as the UN secretary-general warned that the Middle East was in a “moment of maximum peril”.

Shares and bond yields sank in Asia trade while safe-haven currencies, gold and crude oil jumped.

Iran’s state television said nuclear facilities where Iran has been conducting work – which Tehran says is peaceful but which the West believes is aimed at building a weapon – were unharmed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed there was no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites, and called for extreme restraint from all sides.

The Natanz nuclear site, the centrepiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, is in Isfahan province.

Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and also cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours after the attack, according to FlightRadar24.

The airports and airspace had reopened by 8.15am, Tehran time (2.45pm AEST).

Israel’s assault on Gaza began after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1200, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s military offensive has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the local health ministry.

Iran-backed groups have declared support for Palestinians, launching attacks from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

The federal government is alarmed after Israel launched retaliatory strikes on Iran, bringing the Middle East closer to a regional war.

“Australia remains extremely concerned about the potential for miscalculation and further escalation of conflict in the region,” Acting Foreign Minister Katy Gallagher said on Friday.

“This is in no one’s interests.

We urge all parties to exercise restraint and step back to avoid a further spiral of violence.”

Australia will continue working with its partners to try to reduce tensions and prevent further regional spillover, the minister added.

Israel was silent on Friday about the latest escalation.

Tensions have been rising since an air strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that was blamed on Israel. No one was killed.

Meanwhile, the Australian government’s SmartTraveller website has been updated to reflect today’s developments.

The advice for Australians remains “do not travel” to Iran and “reconsider your need to travel” to Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“Regional tensions are high, and the security situation could deteriorate quickly with little or no notice,” the website said.

AAP with Reuters



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