Biden leads condemnation of Iran’s missile strikes on Israel

US assures Israel of ‘ironclad commitment’ to security while Iran’s president warns against ‘reckless behaviour’

United States president Joe Biden has led the “unequivocal condemnation” of Iran’s air missile attack on Israel as western leaders vowed to work to avoid further destabilisation in the Middle East.

In a statement issued after an emergency meeting on Sunday, the Group of Seven (G7) asserted that Iran’s strike risked “provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation” while, in a phone conference with Israel prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening, Mr Biden reportedly urged his counterpart to interpret the successful repulsion of the aerial barrage by an Israeli-US military coalition as “a win”.

He also told Mr Netanyahu that he could be assured of America’s “ironclad commitment to the security of Israel” as the White House sought to portray the outcome of Iran’s aggression as a validation of the robustness of Israel’s military capacity. Iranian military fired more than 300 weapons, including 30 cruise and over 120 ballistic missiles. According to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), 99 per cent of these were taken down by a combination of Israeli and US missile defence destroyers.

Speaking on Sunday, Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz also praised Israel as “an anchor of security in the Middle East” and thanked the commanders and fighters of the IDF before vowing that Israel would “build a regional coalition and exact a price from Iran in a way and at a time that suits us”.


The Iranian strike was interpreted as a retaliation to the Israeli aircraft bombing of an Iranian diplomatic facility in Damascus, Syria, on April 1st, which killed several military officials, including one member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The nature of Saturday’s attack – large in scale but telegraphed and led with slow drones – has fuelled some analyses in the United States that the Iranians wanted to deliver a message rather than inflict damage or casualties.

Speaking on Iranian state television, Mag Gen Mohammad Bagheri said the attack on Israel had “achieved its goals and, in our view, the operation has ended”. However, Iran president Ebrahim Raisi warned in a statement issued on Sunday that should Israel or its supporters “demonstrate reckless behaviour, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response”.

The ongoing plight of those in Gaza was also acknowledged in the G7 statement in which the leaders vowed “to strengthen co-operation to end the crisis in Gaza” by working towards an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages by Hamas and to “deliver increased humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need”.

The G7 is an intergovernmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US. The EU also participates but is regarded as a “non-enumerated member”.

Mr Biden left his beach house in Delaware to return to the White House on Saturday afternoon as reports of an anticipated Iranian strike were confirmed. The latest episode of fragility in the Middle East generated loudening criticism of Mr Biden from Republican opponents, including Donald Trump, for what they perceive to be his placatory foreign policy stance. Several prominent Republican politicians, including Florida senator Marco Rubio, a former presidential aspirant and now vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said that Iran’s goal was to ultimately make Israel “an unliveable place”.

“Iran knows it cannot beat Israel militarily but what it does aspire to do is to make Israel an impossible place to live and a place nobody wants to visit. I hear a lot of talk right now about how this was a performative attack and how none of them got through. And that’s great. But what do you think the tourism numbers are today in Israel and in the next couple of weeks and what do we think the business numbers are going to look like?

“All of this is harmful to the Jewish state because that is the goal of Iran, ultimately.”

Mr Rubio’s focus on tourism will for many sit uneasily against the scale of civilian casualties in Gaza over recent months. There are fears that the flashpoint between Iran and Israel may inadvertently divert attention from the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza. But it is unlikely to dilute the domestic pressure on Mr Biden from Democrats who feel he has gone nowhere close enough in pressurising Israel to facilitate relief measures.

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times