Iran’s Raisi reiterates warnings as Israel mulls response to air attack

As the world calls for calm, President Raisi vows ‘slightest attack’ will be met with a ‘strong and fierce response’.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech during the National Army Day parade in Tehran, April 17, 2024 [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]Published On 17 Apr 202417 Apr 2024

The “tiniest attack” by Israel would bring a “massive and harsh” response, Iran’s president has reiterated as concern over the threat of full-scale war in the Middle East persists.

President Ebrahim Raisi’s warning came on Wednesday as he spoke at Iran’s annual army parade. The world is braced for potential retaliation to Iran’s attack on Israel which took place over the weekend.

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Israel has pledged to respond, despite calls for it to hold back persisting on all sides, and the UK’s foreign minister suggested on Wednesday as he visited Israel that it has decided to “act”.

Speaking at the ceremony, Raisi hailed Iran’s direct attack on Israel, dubbed “True Promise”, and reiterated recent threats of a “strong and fierce response”.

Since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, an attack on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas in October, set off the war in Gaza, Iranian allies in Lebanon and Yemen have been engaged in low-level hostilities with Israel.

However, a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Syria on April 1 prompted Iran’s first-ever direct attack against Israel.

“The people of the world saw that after the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, ‘True Promise’ collapsed the Zionist regime’s false hegemony,” Raisi asserted.

Calling that attack “limited” he claimed that if Iran had wanted to carry out a bigger attack, “nothing would remain from the Zionist regime”.

Iranian officials have declared that any retaliation by Israel would be met with a swift response.

“That is the time when the supporters of the Zionist regime will find out that their hidden power will not be able to do anything,” the president said, according to a statement published on his official website.

‘Decision to act’

Raisi also hit out at Israel’s allies. “Those countries that sought to normalise relations with this cruel and criminal regime, are ashamed before their nations today,” he said.

Fears that Israel’s war on Gaza risks an escalation into all-out war have peaked as Israel’s response to Iran’s attack is awaited.

Israel’s allies in the United States and Europe, Japan and Australia, have called for restraint, just as Russia and China have urged caution from Iran. However, Israeli officials have pledged that a response will come.

“It’s right to show solidarity with Israel. It’s right to have made our views clear about what should happen next but it’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act,” the UK’s foreign minister, David Cameron, told reporters during his visit to Tel Aviv.

“We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible, and in a way that … is smart as well as tough,” he added.

Red Sea preparations

As part of Tehran’s preparations for an Israeli response, Iran’s naval commander said on Wednesday that warships will be deployed in the Red Sea to escort Iranian commercial shipping.

“The Navy is carrying out a mission to escort Iranian commercial ships to the Red Sea and our Jamaran frigate is present in the Gulf of Aden in this view,” Naval Commander Shahram Irani said, according to the semiofficial Tasnim news agency.

Tehran is ready to escort vessels of other countries, he added.

The Red Sea has seen significant disruption to Israel-bound shipping due to attacks from Yemen’s Houthi group.

The Iran-backed group has been attacking ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November in what they say is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel’s continuing war on Gaza.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies