May 30th, 2024

The Latest | G7 warns of new sanctions against Iran as world reacts to apparent Israeli drone attack

By The Associated Press on April 19, 2024.

Osnat Peri, right, whose husband, Hair is in Hamas captivity, takes part in a Passover Seder commemoration with relatives of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, at the communal dining room at Kibbutz Nir Oz, Thursday, April 11, 2024. For many Jews, no matter how observant, Passover is a time to unite with family to eat and drink around what's known as a Seder table, remembering how the Jews persevered through harsh times. But this year, when Passover begins on Monday, many families are torn on how to celebrate, or if it's worth acknowledging at all. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Group of Seven foreign ministers warned of new sanctions against Iran on Friday for its drone and missile attack on Israel, and urged both sides to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

Meanwhile, an apparent Israeli drone attack on Iran saw troops fire air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site near the central city of Isfahan. It came nearly a week after Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on Israel.

Israel also carried out a missile strike targeting an air defense unit in southern Syria, causing material damage, state-run SANA news agency quoted a military statement as saying Friday.

Israel had vowed to respond to Iran’s unprecedented weekend attack, leaving the region bracing for further escalation after months of fighting in Gaza. Allies have urged Israel to hold back on any response to the attack that could spiral.

Regional tensions have increased since the start of the latest Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, when Hamas and Islamic Jihad – two militant groups backed by Iran – carried out a cross-border attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel responded with an offensive in Gaza that has caused widespread devastation and killed more than 33,900 people, according to local health officials.

Currently:

– Iran fires at apparent Israeli attack drones near Isfahan air base and nuclear site

– Israel gave US last-minute warning about drone attack on Iran, Italian foreign minister says

– US and UK issue new sanctions on Iran in response to Tehran’s weekend attack on Israel

– US vetoes a widely supported resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine.

– Palestinian soccer renews call for sanctions against Israel at FIFA congress

Here is the latest:

ISRAEL GAVE US LAST-MINUTE WARNING ABOUT DRONE ATTACK ON IRAN, ITALY’S FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS

CAPRI, Italy – The United States told the Group of Seven foreign ministers on Friday that it received “last minute” information from Israel about a drone action in Iran, Italy’s foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the United States provided the information at a Friday morning session that was changed at the last minute to address the apparent attack. Tajani said the U.S. informed the G7 ministers that it had been “informed at the last minute” by Israel about the drones. “But there was no sharing of the attack by the U.S. It was a mere information.”

He said Italians living in Iran were all accounted for and “without problems.”

GERMAN LEADER SAYS EVERYONE MUST ENSURE NO FURTHER ESCALATION

BERLIN ““ German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is calling on all in the Middle East to ensure that there is no further escalation in the region, but he and his government are saying little about events in Iran overnight.

Scholz noted at an event on the North Sea island of Norderney Friday that there were reports of more “military activity” during the night.

He said: “I can’t and don’t want to say more about it than that for us, a very clear principle goes for all ““ everyone must now and in the near future ensure that there is no further escalation of the war.”

Scholz said that Germany will talk with “all our friends and allies” about de-escalation.

Asked about reports of an Israeli attack, Scholz’s spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit, said in Berlin that he can’t contribute “anything of my own” to information on what happened.

G7 FOREIGN MINISTERS WARN OF NEW SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN

CAPRI, Italy – Group of Seven foreign ministers warned of new sanctions against Iran on Friday for its drone and missile attack on Israel, and urged both sides to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who chaired the meeting of ministers of industrialized countries, said the agenda of the three-day meeting was changed on Friday to address the latest developments.

Early Friday, Iran fired air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site near the central city of Isfahan after spotting drones. They were apparently part of an Israeli attack in retaliation for Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country last weekend.

Tajani didn’t immediately address the incident, but said that G7 ministers condemned Iran’s weekend attack on Israel and urged both sides to exercise restraint.

“The political objective is de-escalation,” Tajani said in a closing news conference.

ISRAELI FAR-RIGHT MINISTER’S X POST DRAWS CONDEMNATION

JERUSALEM – Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir appeared to ridicule an apparent Israeli strike on Iran Friday morning, posting a single word to X: “Lame.”

The attack hasn’t been confirmed by Iranian or Israeli officials. Iran fired air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site early Friday morning near the central city of Isfahan after spotting apparent Israeli drones.

The attack is thought to be an Israeli retaliation to Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country.

Ben-Gvir’s post drew condemnation from Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, who said that the firebrand minister had inflicted “heavy” damage on the country’s “security, its image, and its international status.”

“In an unforgivable one-word tweet, Ben-Gvir managed to mock and shame Israel from Tehran to Washington” Lapid wrote on X.

TURKEY SAYS IRAN-ISRAEL TENSIONS RISK BECOMING “˜PERMANENT CONFLICT’

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s Foreign Ministry says that it’s becoming clear that tensions between Iran and Israel risk “turning into a permanent conflict.”

“In light of the latest developments, it is becoming increasingly evident that the tensions that were initially caused by Israel’s illegal attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus risk turning into a permanent conflict,” according to a statement from the ministry.

“We call on all parties to refrain from steps that could lead to a wider conflict. The priority of the international community should be to stop the massacre in Gaza and to ensure lasting peace in our region by establishing a Palestinian state.”

OMAN CONDEMNS “˜ISRAEL’S REPEATED MILITARY ATTACKS IN THE REGION’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The sultanate of Oman has condemned what it called an Israeli attack on Isfahan on Friday.

Oman has close ties with Iran and often serves as a interlocutor for the West when dealing with Tehran.

A statement from its Foreign Ministry said Oman “condemns and denounces Israel’s repeated military attacks in the region.”

EUROPEAN COMMISSION HEAD BESEECHES IRAN AND ISRAEL TO TAKE NO FURTHER ACTION

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called on Israel and Iran to refrain from further actions, saying “it is absolutely necessary that the region stays stable.”

“We have to do all, everything possible that all sides of this time from the escalation in that region,” von der Leyen said Friday in Arctic Finland in reply to a question on the recent strikes by the two countries on each other.

Von der Leyen was on a visit to part of Finland’s 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) land border with Russia – one of the EU’s longest external borders – with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo to see the migration that Helsinki is facing from Moscow.

CHINA IS OPPOSED TO ANY ACTIONS THAT FURTHER RAISE TENSIONS IN THE MIDEAST, FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS

BEIJING – China is opposed to any actions that further raise tensions in the Middle East, its Foreign Ministry said Friday after an apparent Israeli attack on Iran.

Asked about Israel, Iran and rising tensions in the Middle East, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said the reports had been noted.

“We oppose any actions that lead to the escalation of tensions,” Lin told reporters at a daily briefing Friday. “China opposes any actions that lead to the escalation of tensions and will continue to play a constructive role in easing the tensions.”

BRITAIN CAUTIONS AGAINST ESCALATION AS IT INVESTIGATES REPORTED ISRAELI STRIKE INSIDE IRAN

LONDON – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cautioned Friday against escalation in the Middle East, saying Britain was working to confirm the details around a reported Israeli strike inside Iran.

“We have condemned Iran’s reckless and dangerous barrage of missiles against Israel … and Israel absolutely has the right to self defense,” he said. “But as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when I spoke to him last week, and more generally, significant escalation is not in anyone’s interest. What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region.”

AUSTRALIA URGES CITIZENS TO LEAVE ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES AS MIDEAST TENSIONS RISE

SYDNEY – The Australian government urged its citizens Friday in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to leave “if it’s safe to do so,” in response to growing military tensions in the Middle East.

The Department of Foreign Affairs posted a travel advisory on its website Friday saying “there’s a high threat of military reprisals and terrorist attacks against Israel and Israeli interests across the region” and the security situation could deteriorate quickly, with little or no notice.

It said military attacks could cause closures and travel disruptions, and that Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport may pause operations due to heightened security concerns at any time.

Previously, the government had advised Australians to reconsider their travel to these areas, or whether to remain in the region, but had stopped short of asking its citizens to leave.

ISRAELI STRIKE TARGETS AIR DEFENSE UNIT IN SYRIA, STATE NEWS AGENCY SAYS

BEIRUT – Israel carried out a missile strike targeting an air defense unit in its south and causing material damage, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency quoted a military statement as saying Friday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the strike hit a military radar for government forces. It was not clear if there were casualties, the Observatory said.

The Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman said six Israeli fighter jets entered Syria’s airspace and were flying east when they were spotted by the radar. He added that the fighters jets were flying east.

The warplanes were seen around the time loud noises and drones were reported near a major Iranian air base and nuclear site early Friday. That area of Syria is directly west of Isfahan, some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away, and east of Israel.

Iranian state television described all atomic sites in the Isfahan area as “fully safe.” The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, also said “there is no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites” after the commotion.

IRAN FIRES AIR DEFENSE BATTERIES AFTER APPARENT EXPLOSIONS ARE HEARD NEAR MAJOR AIR BASE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran fired air defense batteries early Friday morning at a major air base and a nuclear site near its central city of Isfahan over drones being spotted, raising fears of a possible Israeli retaliatory strike following Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country.

Iran then grounded commercial flights in Tehran and across areas of its western and central regions. Loudspeakers informed customers of the incident at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, online videos purported to show. Iran later restored normal flight service, authorities said.

Air defenses fired in several provinces over reports of drones being in the air, state television reported. However, Iranian state-run media sought to immediately downplay the incident, airing footage of an otherwise-peaceful Isfahan morning.

The facility at Isfahan operates three small Chinese-supplied research reactors, as well as handles fuel production and other activities for Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

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