A displaced Palestinian child stands at the entrance of a tent set up amid the rubble left behind by Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, in southern Gaza, on April 19, 2024. (Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)


Iran, Israel appear to downplay Israeli strikes on Isfahan military base: Day 196 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Israel strikes Iran in its own retaliatory strikes that Iran says did not cause any disruptions to the country's major infrastructure.

Israeli strikes on a military position in southern Syria.

US vetoes Palestine's request for full UN membership during Security Council session.

One person was killed in Israeli strikes on Aita al-Shaab.

22:04 Beirut Time

This blog is now closed. Thanks for following our live coverage of the war on Gaza and its repercussions on the region, including the cycle of retaliation between Israel and Iran. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis. Good night!

21:51 Beirut Time

A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed during Israel’s ongoing raid of the Nur Shams refugee camp in the occupied West Bank’s Tulkarem, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, cited by Al Jazeera.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society says its ambulances were prevented from entering Nur Shames to tend to and evacuate the wounded — one of which includes a volunteer medic who was shot while responding to casualties.

The Israeli army invaded the refugee camp yesterday and the raid has been ongoing since. At least five people have been killed, Al Jazeera reports.

21:47 Beirut Time

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said the US had "no comment" on reports of Israeli attacks in Iran overnight, Reuters reports. The lack of comment is a departure for the White House, which routinely weighs in on the latest developments regarding its key ally, Israel. 

In this way, the US is echoing Iran and Israel's framing of the incident — which is to largely avoid discussing it altogether. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters earlier today that the US was not involved and a senior US official told Middle East Eye that Israel had told its closest ally it wouldn't strike Iran until after April 30, when Passover ends.

21:05 Beirut Time

Updates from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• An anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon hit a military vehicle in Metula, Haaretz reported. The strike did not cause any casualties.

• Hezbollah announced it targeted Israeli surveillance equipment in the disputed Shebaa Farms at 6:50 p.m.

21:02 Beirut Time

Israel did not notify the US of its intention to carry out strikes in Iran on Thursday, having previously told its closest ally that it would not attack until after the Passover holiday, a senior US official told Middle East Eye.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Israeli officials had assured their US counterparts that their response to Iran’s highly choreographed launching of over 300 missiles over the weekend would not come until after Passover, which started on April 22 and ends on April 30.

The strike, which both Iran and Israel have been intent on downplaying, came just hours after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to discuss the situation in the region.

20:11 Beirut Time

G7 leaders released a statement condemning Iran and giving Israel its “full solidarity and support,” following ongoing meetings in Italy addressing enflamed tensions in the region and in the wake of strikes attributed to Israel on a radar site near an Iranian nuclear plant this morning.

On Saturday, Iran launched a salvo of over 300 missiles and drones toward Israel, the majority of which were intercepted, although some struck military bases in Israel. The attack was in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed more than a dozen people including senior IRGC commanders.

“We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s direct and unprecedented attack against Israel,” the statement reads. “This was a dangerous escalation.”

👉 Read more here.

19:40 Beirut Time

Three missiles were fired from Israeli fighter aircraft from outside Iranian airspace in this morning’s “very limited” strike, a senior US official told ABC News.

According to the official, the Israeli military was targeting an air defense radar site near Isfahan which is responsible for protecting the Natanz nuclear facility. An initial assessment has found that the strike “took out” the radar facility, but a full assessment has not been completed.

There were reports earlier today that indicated the Israeli drones had been launched from inside Iranian territory. Reuters reported that an analyst told Iranian state TV that “mini-drones” flown by “infiltrators from inside Iran” had been shot down by air defenses in Isfahan.

19:32 Beirut Time

Late this afternoon, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for two attacks against Israel:

• The party says that at 5:10 p.m., its fighters targeted a deployment of Israeli soldiers at the Israeli site of "Roueissat al-Alam" in the disputed Kfar Shuba heights.

• It also claimed to have targeted at 5:50 p.m. Israeli soldiers at the "Biyad Blida" site, located opposite the Lebanese village of Blida, in Marjayoun district. Hezbollah announced an earlier attack on the same site at 4:40 p.m. this afternoon.

19:16 Beirut Time

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said drones attributed to Israel which were launched toward the city of Isfahan earlier today caused no damage or casualties, in comments made to the envoys of Muslim nations in New York and cited by Iranian media.

"The Zionist regime's media supporters, in a desperate effort, tried to make victory out of their defeat, while the downed mini-drones have not caused any damage or casualties," Amirabdollahian is quoted as saying, according to Reuters.

Tehran has indicated it has no plans for retaliation. Israel has made no public comment on the incident.

18:52 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• Israeli warplanes raided the outskirts of Mansouri, in Sour district, and targeted an uninhabited house, local residents told our correspondent in the South. The house was destroyed — there is no information yet regarding casualties.

• Israeli aircraft targeted three houses in the village of Aitaroun, in Bint Jbeil district, destroying them and damaging nearby houses, residents told our correspondent. No casualties have been reported.

• Hezbollah announced that at 4:50 p.m. it targeted spy equipment at the Israeli “Biyad Blida” site, located opposite the Lebanese border town of Blida, in Marjayoun district.

18:42 Beirut Time

LOT Polish Airlines, the flag carrier of Poland, canceled its next two roundabout flights between Warsaw and Beirut, a source in a local travel agency told L'Orient Today, consulting the agency's reservation system.

The source confirmed that the airline, which currently has three roundabout flights between Warsaw and Beirut per week, had not yet decided whether the third flight scheduled this week will also get canceled.

Citing a LOT spokesperson, the state-run Polish Press Agency reported canceled flights from Warsaw to Tel Aviv and Beirut today due to the "unstable situation in the region."

17:42 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden's administration is pushing for a "long-shot diplomatic deal" in the coming months pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a new commitment to Palestinian statehood in exchange for diplomatic recognition from Saudi Arabia, according to US and Saudi officials who spoke to American newspaper the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

According to a WSJ report published yesterday, the White House is offering Riyadh a "more formal defense relationship with Washington, assistance in acquiring civil nuclear power, and a renewed push for a Palestinian state," in return for the Gulf country's diplomatic engagement with Israel. US officials say that they are in the final stages of negotiating this package, which would provide a "historic normalization deal with Riyadh.”

👉 Read more here.

16:18 Beirut Time

The Israeli war on Gaza has killed 34,012 Palestinians and injured 76,833, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, cited by Reuters. Thousands more are missing and thought to be buried under the rubble.

15:43 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of one of its members, Mohammed Hassan al-Sayyed Abdel Mohsen Fadlallah, also known as Abu Hadi, who was born in 1969 in Ainata (Bint Jbeil) but resided in Khirbet Silm (Bint Jbeil). As usual, the party only said that Fadlallah was “martyred on the road to Jerusalem” and did not provide any information as to when and where he was killed. 282 Hezbollah members have been killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 8.

According to L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the South, Fadlallah was the one killed in the Israeli strikes on Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil) this morning. He was the son of Lebanese religious scholar Abdel Mohsin Fadlallah and the son of the sister of the late Sayyed Mohammed Fadlallah, one of Lebanon’s most influential Shiite clerics who was often credited as being the spiritual leader of Hezbollah despite not being a party of the party. Fadlallah worked at the Islamic Education Foundation.

15:32 Beirut Time

A security perimeter was set up around the Iranian consulate in Paris on Friday, and police action was imminent after "a witness spotted a man entering carrying a grenade or explosive vest," the police prefecture said.

"The Prefect of Police, Laurent Nuñez, has mobilized the BRI," an elite police unit, added the same source, adding that the consulate had made a "request for intervention."

14:43 Beirut Time

The United States "has not been involved in an offensive operation," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday after reports of Israeli retaliatory strikes against Iran.

"I'm not going to talk about those events reported by the media ... All I can say from our side and from the side of all G7 members is that our goal is de-escalation," he told a press conference after a meeting of G7 heads of diplomacy on the small Italian island of Capri.

14:31 Beirut Time

One person was killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a house in the village of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil) this morning, a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South.

14:29 Beirut Time

The US is considering "more than $1 billion in new weapons deals for Israel including tank ammunition, military vehicles and mortar rounds," the Wall Street Journal reported citing US officials.

The proposed weapons transfers would be "among the largest to Israel since it invaded Gaza."

Separately, Congress is set to vote this weekend on a pair of bills that would provide $26 billion for Israel, "including $5.2 billion in spending on air defenses, $1 billion for the production of artillery, and billions of dollars for other weapons systems and US military operations undertaken in the region in response to recent attacks."

13:49 Beirut Time

Reacting to reports of explosions in Iran blamed by some on Israel, the Kremlin on Friday called on all parties to "exercise restraint" to avoid "escalation," although Moscow declined to point the finger of blame.

"We continue to encourage the parties to show restraint and refrain from any action that could provoke a new escalation in such a sensitive region," said spokesman Dmitri Peskov, deeming it "too early" to comment on any potential responsibility, in the absence of an official statement from Israel.

13:44 Beirut Time

Turkey warned on Friday of the risk of "permanent conflict" following the explosions in Iran, which it attributed to retaliation by Israel.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the tensions initially provoked by Israel's illegal attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus risk turning into a permanent conflict," the Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced in a statement.

"We call on all parties to refrain from any measures that could lead to a wider conflict," it added.

13:39 Beirut Time

Germany on Friday reiterated its calls for "de-escalation" in the Middle East following reports of explosions in Iran, blamed on Israel by senior US officials quoted in the media.

"De-escalation must be the message of the moment," said Steffen Hebestreit, spokesman for Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a regular press conference in Berlin.

13:39 Beirut Time

China on Friday urged its nationals in Iran to exercise caution in view of a "rapidly evolving" security environment, following explosions that US media quoted US officials as blaming on Israel.

"The Chinese Embassy in Iran once again calls on its citizens as well as Chinese companies in the country to take security precautions, closely monitor developments and ensure their safety," the embassy said in a statement.

13:38 Beirut Time

The foreign ministers of the G7 countries on Friday called on "all parties" to "prevent further escalation" in the Middle East following reports of explosions in Iran.

"In light of the April 19 strikes, we call on all parties to work to prevent further escalation. The G7 will continue to work in this direction," they state in the final communiqué issued at the end of their three-day meeting on the small Italian island of Capri.

The G7 also denounced the "unacceptable number of civilians" killed in Gaza by Israel's military offensive.

"We deplore all loss of civilian life and note with great concern the unacceptable number of civilians, including thousands of women, children and people in vulnerable situations, who have been killed in Gaza," they said in the final communiqué issued at the end of their three-day meeting on the small Italian island of Capri.

13:27 Beirut Time

Lebanon's foreign ministry expressed its regret over the UN Security Council's failure to accept "the full membership of the state of Palestine in the United Nations."

The United States cast a veto yesterday in the Security Council to deny Palestine full membership in the United Nations.

"It is time for the international community to translate its words into deeds by accepting the two-state solution and recognizing Palestine as an independent, full-fledged state," the ministry added.

13:11 Beirut Time

Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi gave a speech on Friday morning without saying a word about the explosions reported a few hours earlier, which the authorities did not link to tensions with Israel.

Speaking before several hundred people in the northeastern town of Damghan, Raissi briefly touched on the tense international context in the Middle East following Iran's unprecedented drone and missile strikes against Israel last weekend.

This operation, carried out on April 13, "reflected our authority, the iron will of our people and our unity," he declared." All sections of the population and all political tendencies agree that the operation reinforced the strength and authority of the Islamic Republic."

13:04 Beirut Time

Israel fired machine guns at the outskirts of the village of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil) around an hour ago, according to residents' testimonies relayed by L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South.

This is the only incident that was recorded at the Lebanese-Israeli border in the past 2.5 hours.

12:38 Beirut Time

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday reiterated his call for "cool heads" in the Middle East following reports of explosions in Iran, blamed on Israel by senior US officials quoted in the media.

"Significant escalation is in nobody's interest. What we want is for cool heads to prevail in the region," said Rishi Sunak at a press conference, adding that London is working with its allies to "confirm the details" of these events.

12:35 Beirut Time

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's far-right national security minister, has come under fire domestically after posting on X (formerly Twitter) "Scarecrow!" which means feeble in Hebrew slang and suggests that not only was Israel behind the attack on Iran, but that the attack was weak, AFP reports.

"Never before a minister has done such a heavy damage to the country's security, its image, and its international status," Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said in his own post. "In an unforgivable tweet of one word, Ben Gvir managed to sneer and shame Israel from Tehran to Washington."

Israeli academic and podcast host Shaiel Ben-Ephraim said that Ben-Gvir's post "confirms the Israeli operation and ridicules it" which "undermines Israel's power of deterrence. An absolute disgrace for a minister."

Israel has not publicly taken credit for the Friday morning strike near the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

12:19 Beirut Time

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem said, in an interview with NBC News, that "we didn't expect the war would last this long because we didn't think that Netanyahu was that foolish, same for Biden and the other countries."

Qassem told the American news outlet that Hezbollah is determined not to escalate the conflict, but will respond to any escalation from the Israelis. He blamed Israel and the US for "perpetuating tit-for-tat attacks," according to NBC News.

Qassem said that Hezbollah will continue to engage the Israeli army on the northern border alongside the war in Gaza, but that "if Israel decides to go to war against us, we will be prepared for a full confrontation."

In the interview broadcast before Israel's reported attack on Iran overnight into Friday, Qassem told NBC News that "Tehran said clearly that it doesn't want a war and that it responded to the attack on its embassy, and that's it for them."

Read the full story here.

11:38 Beirut Time

China said on Friday it would play "a constructive role in de-escalation" in the Middle East, following explosions in Iran, which US officials quoted in the US media as blaming on Israel.

"China opposes any action that could lead to an escalation of tensions, and will continue to play a constructive role in de-escalation," a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, Lin Jian, told reporters.

11:33 Beirut Time

The European Union is calling on the parties in the Middle East to "refrain from any further action" following reports of an Israeli strike on Iran, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.

"It is absolutely necessary for the region to remain stable and for all parties to refrain from any further action," said von der Leyen during a visit to Finland with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.

11:11 Beirut Time

Three government ministers and legal experts held an "emergency discussion" at the Israeli Prime Minister's office over fears that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers for breaches of international law, the Times of Israel reports.

This meeting was held after reports that such warrants could be issued in the near future.

Similar concerns were raised by Netanyahu during his recent meetings with Britain and Germany's foreign ministers in Israel. It was decided that Israel would seek help from other influential diplomatic circles to try and prevent the issuing of any warrants.

11:11 Beirut Time

According to the Jerusalem Post, the "recent attack by the Iranian air force in Isfahan was carried out with long-range missiles launched from aircraft, not from drones or land-based missiles" as previous reports had indicated.

10:51 Beirut Time

Oman, a Gulf country that has long played the role of mediator between Teheran and the West, condemned the "Israeli attack" on Iran Friday after explosions at dawn in the Iranian province of Isfahan were attributed to Israel by US media quoting US officials.

The Sultanate of Oman "condemns this morning's Israeli attack on Isfahan, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as Israel's repeated military aggressions in the region," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement published on X.

10:38 Beirut Time

In the hours since the strike, Iran's state news broadcaster, IRIB, has not heavily focused on the Israeli attack.

While the news feed on the screen mentions it, the news reports broadcast has not given it extensive coverage.

Coverage of the attacks has primarily shown residents of Isfahan, near where the strikes took place, going about their normal daily lives, such as having a picnic and going to the park with friends and family.

10:12 Beirut Time

(Credit: Stan Honda/AFP)

The S&P Global rating agency lowered Israel's debt rating by one notch on Friday, from AA- to A+, which still indicates a strong ability to repay, in the face of "heightened geopolitical risks."

"The recent intensification of the confrontation with Iran increases the already high geopolitical risks for Israel," the agency said, adding a negative outlook.

In February, Moody's had also lowered its rating by one notch due to the conflict with Hamas, to A2 with a negative outlook.

In early April, Fitch distinguished itself from other rating agencies by removing Israel from the watch list, maintaining its rating at A+ with a negative outlook.

10:09 Beirut Time

France's position is one of de-escalation and restraint in the Middle East, French Minister for Europe Jean-Noel Barrot told Sud Radio on Friday, following reports of an Israeli strike against Iran.

"It's probably a little early for me to comment on what happened last night," he added, adding that French President Emmanuel Macron would comment "in due course."

10:05 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, according to L'Orient Today's correspondent in the region, citing security sources, last night was marked by several incidents on the border with Israel.

Between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Israeli artillery intermittently shelled the town of Houla (Marjayoun).

After 10 p.m., Hezbollah announced that at 8:23 p.m. it shelled the Beit Hillel base in Upper Galilee with Falaq rockets, in retaliation for the previous day's shelling of Khiam and Kfar Kila (Bint Jbeil).

The party also claimed to have bombed "surveillance equipment" at Ramim barracks, opposite the Lebanese town of Markaba (Marjayoun), at 9:45 p.m.

Hezbollah launched a third artillery attack during the night, at 1:01 a.m., on a gathering of Israeli soldiers at the Rahib position.

10:01 Beirut Time

According to Iranian officials, quoted by the New York Times, the Israeli strikes hit a military airbase near Isfahan although the scale of the attack and damage are so far unknown.

Both Iran and Israel have sought to downplay the attack in its aftermath with Iran saying that the attack did not cause any disruptions to major infrastructure in the country and Israel not publicly commenting on the strikes.

09:56 Beirut Time

There is "no damage" to nuclear sites after Friday's reported explosions in central Iran, said the IAEA, while US officials report an Israeli attack in retaliation for last weekend's shooting at Israel.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, Austria, "continues to call," on social network X, "everyone to extreme restraint and reiterates that no nuclear facility should ever be targeted in military conflicts".

09:38 Beirut Time

Also on Thursday, the United States and Great Britain stepped up their sanctions against Iran, following the drone and missile attack launched on Israeli territory on April 13 after a deadly strike blamed on Israel against the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

The United States also vetoed a proposal for full Palestinian membership of the United Nations. This decision was condemned by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

The former promised to continue "its struggle until the establishment ... of an independent and fully sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital." While the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, considered that the "aggressive American policy towards Palestine, its people and its legitimate rights represents a flagrant aggression against international law."

09:36 Beirut Time

In the Gaza Strip devastated by more than six months of war, the Israeli army carried out new deadly strikes on Thursday , while UN chief Antonio Guterres deplored a "humanitarian hell" in the Palestinian territory.

At least 71 more deaths were recorded in the Gaza Strip, bringing to 33,970 the death toll, mainly civilians, since Oct. 7, according to the Gazan health ministry, according to the latest AFP report published shortly before midnight on Thursday.

09:18 Beirut Time

Israeli strikes also targeted a Syrian army position in southern Syria at dawn on Friday, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), just as Israel was launching an attack on Iran, according to US media.

09:18 Beirut Time

The explosions in Iran coincided with the 85th birthday of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, AFP noted.

09:17 Beirut Time

Iran's Tasnim news agency reported on Friday, citing "well-informed sources", that there was "no information pointing to a foreign attack," following explosions heard in the country.

"Contrary to rumors and claims made by the Israeli media," there is "no information pointing to a foreign attack on the central city of Isfahan or any other part of the country", the agency said, while no Iranian leader has publicly commented on the explosions and senior US officials have reported an Israeli attack in retaliation for the unprecedented drone and missile strikes against Israel last weekend.

09:16 Beirut Time

Several explosions were reported early Friday in central Iran, with senior US officials reporting an Israeli attack in retaliation for the unprecedented drone and missile strikes against Israel last weekend.

09:01 Beirut Time
09:00 Beirut Time

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