Iran Isn't Exactly Furious Over Suspected Israeli Attack

State media blames explosions on 'infiltrators'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2024 6:11 AM CDT
Iran Downplays Suspected Israeli Attack
Vehicles drive past an anti-Israeli banner showing missiles being launched in a square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 19, 2024.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Israel is believed to have attacked Iran early Friday in response to the country's attack on Israel last weekend—but Tehran's reaction has been low-key. Iranian officials and media said a few explosions were caused by air defenses hitting drones near the city of Isfahan, Reuters reports. Officials quoted by state media spoke of "infiltrators" and did not mention Israel. The Iranian reaction "has been muted and mild, with some officials even denying outright that it even took place at all," says Frank Gardner at the BBC. "Another mocked it as 'a failed attack' involving just a 'few quadcopters.'" "Israel's strike appears to signal a willingness to deescalate from this dangerous round," Sanam Vikil of the Chatham House research group tells the New York Times. "The strike on a military facility appears to have matched Iran's in terms of target, scope, and damage."

The Times reports that Israeli and Iranian officials speaking under condition of anonymity confirmed the attack. The Iranian officials said drones were also shot down around 500 miles north of Isfahan, in the Tabriz region. Isfahan is home to a major military base and nuclear research facilities; the International Atomic Energy Agency said there was no damage to nuclear sites. The nuclear watchdog said it "continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts." An Israeli source tells the Washington Post that the strike was "carefully calibrated." Israel has not publicly acknowledged it was behind the attack.

International security expert Charles Miller tells the Post that the strike doesn't appear to be a major escalation. "It seems that actually both sides want to be seen to be doing something without actually undertaking the risks of doing anything that's too provocative," he says. Other analysts, however, say they're worried this could be a prelude to further attacks. The BBC reports that Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's national security minister, said days ago that he wanted the country to go "berserk" in response to the Iranian attack. In a post on X Friday, he "posted one word, best translated as: 'Lame,'" per the BBC. (More Iran stories.)

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