UK Condemns Iran’s Attacks on Israel, Sends More Jets to the Region

The prime minister and the defence secretary said the attack is ’reckless’ and ’senseless,' and said the UK is working with allies to prevent more escalation.
UK Condemns Iran’s Attacks on Israel, Sends More Jets to the Region
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosts a press conference inside the Downing Street Briefing Room after Britain and Rwanda sign a new treaty to transfer illegal immigrants to the African country, in central London, on Dec. 7, 2023. (James Manning/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lily Zhou

The UK has condemned the Iranian regime’s attacks on Israel, saying it’s “reckless” and “senseless,” and deployed more jets and air refuelling tankers to the region to intercept airborne attacks.

Saturday’s attacks, launched two weeks after a suspected Israeli airstrike that killed two Iranian generals and several others, marked the first time the Iranian regime has launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

An Israeli military spokesman said on Sunday that more than 300 attacks were launched on Saturday, including 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles, and more than 120 ballistic missiles.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said 99 percent of the attacks were intercepted. Several ballistic missiles reached Israeli territory, causing minor damage to an air base and injuring a 7-year-old girl in another location.

According to Israel’s Channel 12, U.S. and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area. The U.S. military knocked down dozens of drones and missiles bound for Israel, three U.S. officials said.

In a statement issued on Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he condemns “in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel.

“These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard,” he said.

The prime minister said the UK will “continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq.

“Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilise the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed,” he said.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps also said he “strongly condemn[s] the senseless airborne attack,” saying it “serves no benefit other than to further undermine regional security.”

Mr. Shapps said the UK continues to work with Israel and partners in the region to prevent further escalation, and urged the Iranian regime to “immediately end all forms of destabilising behaviour.”

He also said more jets and tankers have been deployed to the region.

“In response to escalation in the region and in partnership with our allies, the prime minister and I have authorised the deployment of additional Royal Air Force assets, The RAF jets and air refuelling tankers will bolster our existing Operation Shader—the UK’s existing counter-Daesh [ISIS] operation in Iraq and Syria.

“In addition, these jets will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required,” he added.

The Iranian regime had vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven IRGC officers, including two senior commanders. Tehran said its strike was punishment for “Israeli crimes.” Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

Israeli ministers subsequently issued counter-warnings, saying any attack on Israel would lead to a response against Iran.

Condemning Saturday’s attacks, U.S. President Joe Biden, Saturday’s they were launched by the Iranian regime and its proxies operating out of Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

“At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week. Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” he said.

After Saturday’s attacks, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened Israel’s war cabinet at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said.

Israel and Jordan temporarily closed their airspaces on Saturday, and Israel has reopened its airspace as of 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The European Union, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Norway also condemned Iran’s attack.

President Biden’s Republican rival in November’s presidential election, former President Donald Trump, briefly referred to the airstrikes at a rally in Pennsylvania, criticizing his Democratic rival.

“They’re under attack right now,” President Trump said. “That’s because we show great weakness. This would not happen, the weakness that we’ve shown, it’s unbelievable, and it would not have happened if we were in office.”

Following requests from Israel’s ambassador, an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council has been scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, according to a schedule released late on Saturday.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.