Iran launched a drone attack against Israel on Saturday, almost two weeks after a raid on the Iranian consulate in Damascus blamed on the Jewish state. The fear of a new war in the Middle East has never been greater.

In Tehran, state media confirmed a drone attack in progress against Israel, Iran’s sworn enemy.

“Iran launched drones from its territory towards Israel,” said Daniel Hagari, the spokesperson for the Israeli army in a televised address shortly after 11:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. GMT).

“We are monitoring the threat in the airspace. It is a threat that will take several hours to reach the territory of the State of Israel,” added Rear Admiral Hagari. “We are working closely with the United States and our partners in the region to counter and intercept launches.”

Just before this announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured that his country had prepared for “the possibility of a direct attack from Iran” and was “ready to face any scenario, as long as both in terms of defense and attack.

“We appreciate the presence of the United States alongside Israel, as well as the support of Britain, France and many other countries,” Mr. Netanyahu added in a video address, as his army is engaged in a devastating war in Gaza.

Jordan, Israel’s neighbor, announced the temporary closure of its airspace, citing “a dangerous situation in the Middle East”. Iraq, which borders Iran, has also closed its airspace.

Before the attack, the US administration announced that President Joe Biden was expected to return to the White House to consult with his national security team on “events in the Middle East”. On Friday, Mr. Biden said he expected the Iranian attack to take place “soon.”

– Closure of schools –

Faced with Iranian threats, the United States reaffirmed its “unwavering commitment to the security” of its Israeli ally, and announced the sending of reinforcements to the Middle East.

Iran has vowed to “punish” Israel after an April 1 strike on its consulate in Damascus that cost the lives of two Revolutionary Guard generals. Tehran accused Israel, which neither confirmed nor denied.

The Iranian attack was announced after the Revolutionary Guard maritime special forces seized a ship accused of being “linked” to Israel, with 25 crew members on board, in the waters earlier in the day. of the Gulf.

“In view of the security conditions”, Israel has announced the closure of schools and will restrict gatherings. Sunday, the first day of the week in Israel, and Monday, “teaching activities, trips and outings” school and extracurricular activities are suspended in Israel, said Daniel Hagari.

– “Beginning of the escalation” –

The Islamic Republic of Iran is the enemy of Israel and an ally of Hamas, author on October 7 of an unprecedented bloody attack on Israeli soil which provoked a devastating Israeli offensive in Gaza, where 33,686 people, mainly civilians, died according to the authorities of the Palestinian movement.

The White House called on Iran to “immediately” release the seized ship and its crew boarded near the Strait of Hormuz, one of the sea routes most used by merchant shipping.

For Karim Bitar, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), this seizure “could be the start of a broader (…) escalation”.

On its southern border, the Israeli army continued its war in the Gaza Strip, once again targeting the Nusseirat refugee camp in the center of the Palestinian territory which it besieges and where the majority of the 2.4 million inhabitants are threatened with famine according to the UN.

In the last 24 hours, 52 Palestinians have been killed, according to a new report from the Health Ministry of Hamas, which took power in Gaza in 2007 and is classified as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and Israel.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from the neighboring Gaza Strip carried out an attack in southern Israel, resulting in the death of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to a report established by AFP based on data Israeli officials.

More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 129 remain detained in Gaza, including 34 who have died, according to Israeli officials.

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