Jerusalem: Iran’s Unprecedented Attack on Israel

Israel and its international allies and partners thwarted an unprecedented Iranian attack – by 170 drones, at least 30 cruise missiles, and more than 120 ballistic missiles – launched overnight on April 13-14, 2024. The Israeli military, with major help from U.S., British and Jordanian forces, demonstrated decisive superiority over Iran during the hours-long operation, with 99 percent of its weapons intercepted or shot down—some before they even entered Israeli airspace.

The defensive operation was also unprecedented in bringing together countries on three continents to protect Israel. “This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on April 14. Israel relied heavily on its three air defense systems, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow, to counter Iranian weapons. Israeli F-35 and F-15 fighters also intercepted projectiles. Four ballistic missiles hit Israel’s southern Nevatim Airbase but only caused minor damage. The base, which houses Israel's advanced F-35 stealth fighters, appeared to be Iran's primary target. “Iran thought it would be able to paralyze the base and thus damage our air capabilities, but it failed,” Hagari said. 

Iran’s Operation True Promise was retaliation for Israel’s airstrike, on April 1, on an Iranian diplomatic mission in Damascus that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers, including three generals. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran’s conflict with Israel has primarily played out in a shadow war across the Middle East. Tehran had refrained from launching attacks from Iranian territory, instead providing arms, training and funds to Arab militias, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen. So Tehran’s attack marked a significant departure from its longstanding “forward defense” strategy to rely on proxies to pressure Israel.

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At an emergency U.N. Security Council session on April 14, Israel lambasted the Islamic Republic. Iran “thinks Israel is a frog in boiling water. They are wrong,” said Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan. “This attack crossed every red line and Israel reserves the legal right to retaliate. We are a nation of lions.” Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the IDF chief of staff, warned on April 15 that Iran “will face the consequences for its actions” but did not elaborate.


In parallel to deliberations on a military response, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz launched a “diplomatic offensive” against Iran. He urged dozens of countries to impose sanctions on Tehran’s missile program and designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. “Iran must be stopped now - before it is too late,” he wrote on X. The following are remarks by Israeli leaders on Iran’s attack.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 14

“Citizens of Israel,

“In recent years, and especially in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for a direct attack by Iran.

“Our defensive systems are 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.

“We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination.

“Citizens of Israel, I know that you also are also level-headed. I call on you to follow the directives of IDF Home Front Command.

“Together we will stand and with G-d's help – together we will overcome all of our enemies.”


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 14

“We intercepted. We thwarted. Together we will win.”


President Isaac Herzog on April 15

“In the last 24 hours we have really seen a huge historical challenge and that is where the iron clad alliance between Israel and the United States and the United States and Israel. Israel has shown, has resonated, as an incredible iron clad alliance, which serves the national interests of both nations and serves the free world. This is the real example. Everybody who watches us and listens, and analyzes the conflict, must understand, we have been met by an empire of evil. It is true, it is absolutely true. Our citizens were raped, and butchered, and burnt, and tortured, and abducted in an unbelievably unprecedented massacre. I call it “Hamassacre”. This “Hamassacre” of Hamas is something that is unbelievable in terms of modern day warfare or modern day activities of any human being. And when I stood up in a joint session of the House in July 19th of this year, I said that it is terror that is undermining, terror which is undermining, the whole notion of peace in the region. And may I remind you, and I said it in the past and I repeat it now again: In the G20 summit before the October 7th, President Biden presented a vision, connecting Israel to India, which means connecting Europe with the South East Asia, which means connecting the United States to Australia through the eastern hemisphere. That is the grand vision of peace, inclusion, and normalization. Someone in the empire of evil decided to derail this vision. We must go back to the vision. We must get to peace with Saudi Arabia with our allies in the region. We must show these terrorists, we must show these cruel people out there in Tehran, that it won’t work for them. We are standing strong and we shall overcome.”


President Herzog on April 15

“In the free world is to understand that there is an empire of evil in Tehran, which has its proxies laid all over the region and terror cells all over the world. And it is about time that the world faces this empire of evil in Tehran and makes it clear to the Iranian regime that this cannot pass by, that this is unacceptable. This attack is just another example of how they operate for years and years spreading havoc, terror, and instability all over the world and especially in our region.”


Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on April 16

“The Iranians will not be able to implement a different equation of deterrence against the State of Israel. The Air Force planes are operating everywhere, the skies of the Middle East are open, any enemy that will fight against us, we will know how to hit it wherever they are.”


Foreign Minister Israel Katz on April 16

“Alongside the military response to the firing of the missiles and the UAVs, I am leading a diplomatic offensive against Iran.

“This morning I sent letters to 32 countries and spoke with dozens of foreign ministers and leading figures around the world calling for sanctions to be imposed on the Iranian missile project and that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be declared a terrorist organization, as a way to curb and weaken Iran.

“Iran must be stopped now - before it is too late.”


Chief of the Israeli General Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi on April 15

“Over the weekend, Iran launched a large scale attack on Israel. Over 350 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones and rockets were fired from Iranian soil as well as Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon towards the state of Israel. Across the skies of the Middle East. A coalition was activated to counter this attack marking the start of the IDF’s operation: ‘Iron Shield.’ The Israel Defense Forces, together with the United States Central Command, the British and the French armed forces, and other partners, operated together in real time in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Defense systems were activated, the threats were intercepted, and Iran’s attack on Israel failed. Operation Iron Shield proved the strength of our iron clad cooperation. I want to thank all our international partners who stood up to Iran’s aggression. Iran’s attack has created new opportunities for cooperation in the Middle East. We are closely assessing the situation. We remain at our highest level of readiness. Iran will face the consequences for its actions. We will choose our response accordingly. The IDF remains ready to counter any threat from Iran and its proxies as we continue our mission to defend the state of Israel.”


Chief of the Israeli General Staff Lieutenant General Halevi on April 15

“Iran wanted to harm the strategic capabilities of the State of Israel — that is something that had not happened before. We were prepared for the ‘Iron Shield’ operation — preparation that brought Iran to also encounter aerial superiority…Last Monday, we saw what was being organized, and we think that the State of Israel is very strong and knows how to deal with it alone, but with a threat so numerous and so far away, we are always happy to have [the United States] with us…We are looking ahead, we are considering our steps, and this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response.”


IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari on April 14

“Last night, a defensive coalition of Israel and its international partners successfully thwarted a large scale attack from Iran. Iran and its proxies launched approximately 350 suicide drones, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and rockets from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon towards Israel, with approximately 60 tons of warheads and explosive materials. But the threat from Iran was meant with the aerial, operational, technological and intelligence superiority of a united defensive coalition of international allies, led by the United States, together with Great Britain, France, and other partners in the region. Together, we intercepted 99 percent of the threat toward Israel. Together, we thwarted Iran’s attack. Iran’s unprecedented attack was met with an unprecedented defense. This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East. Even while under attack from Iran we have not lost sight, not for one moment, of our critical mission in Gaza: to rescue our hostages from the hands of Iran’s proxies Hamas. Of our moral duty to do everything we can to bring back home 133 hostages. Hamas recently rejected the hostage release proposal offered to them by the mediators. Hamas and Iran want to ignite the Middle East and escalate the region. We are still on high alert and assessing the situation. Over the last few hours we approved operational plans for both offensive and defensive actions. We will continue to protect the State of Israel and, together with our partners, we will continue to build a more secure and stable Middle East. Thank you.”


IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari on April 16

It would be“impossible not to respond to such an attack…Thanks to our operational success on Saturday, we now have many options for how and when to act. We will act properly and at the right time, and any discussion on this matter is unnecessary.”


Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan on April 14

“The only option is to condemn Iran and utilize every means necessary to make them pay a heavy price for their horrible crimes.” 

Iran is “barreling towards nuclear capabilities, has enriched uranium up to 60 percent purity, and its breakout time to produce nuclear weapons is now mere weeks away.”

“Impose sanctions on Iran before it is too late.” 

“We are being fired upon from all fronts, from every border. We are surrounded by Iran’s terror proxies. The war in Gaza extends far broader than Israel and Hamas. All of the terror groups attacking Israel are tentacles of the same Shia octopus, the Iranian octopus.”

“While the Ayatollah regime thinks Israel is a frog in boiling water, they are wrong. This attack crossed every red line and Israel reserves the legal right to retaliate. We are a nation of lions. Following such a massive and direct attack on Israel, the entire world — let alone Israel — cannot settle for inaction.”

“Iran is not only a terrorist state, it is a pirate state. And just like the Third Reich and their brutal SS officers, the Iranian regime not only spreads evil abroad, but also torments and murders their own citizens. In 2023 alone the Ayatollah’s regime executed 834 Iranians. The regime oppresses women, whilst murdering them for not wearing their hijab properly. When the Iranian people peacefully protest this brutality, they are suppressed by live munition. Hundreds of protesters were killed and thousands have been arrested. This is a regime that allows its own people to die of thirst in Isfahan, while it funds terror around the world with billions of dollars. What have you done to defend the World from Iran? Seriously, our globe is suffering from Iran, including the Iranian people. Please defend them. For years the World has watched the rise of Shia Islamic Reich. Yet just like during the rise of Nazism, the World has been silent, deafening silent.”