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April 14, 2024 Israel Update

From the Jewish Federations of North American: 

 

Past updates can be found here.

 

For the first time since the Gulf War in 1991, a sovereign nation directly attacked Israel overnight. The Islamic Republic of Iran launched a massive strike of over 331 missiles and drones at the Jewish state. In what is being described as a remarkable military success, an international coalition, led by the US military, combined with Israel’s multi-layered and technologically sophisticated aerial defense systems, intercepted 99% of the arsenal fired, resulting in only one major injury.Meanwhile, Hamas has formally rejected a proposed ceasefire deal in Gaza.Jewish Federations will present a special briefing, including updates from the IDF, today, Sunday, April 14th, at 10 am ETRegister here.Jewish Federations are aware of several Federations with lay leaders and professional staff in Israel. If you need any assistance in Israel, please contact Dani Wassner. Our Israel staff will mobilize to be of assistance.

 

The Attack

  • Following an air strike just over a week ago that destroyed a building adjacent to the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, killing senior members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Iran had promised significant retaliation against Israel.

  • Overnight, the Islamic Republic launched a massive strike on Israel that comprised:  

  • 185 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones), each carrying a 20kg payload.

  • 36 cruise missiles

  • 110 sophisticated ballistic missiles

  • (See below for more information on these different types of weapons)

  • Around 1:30 am, hundreds of sirens sounded in dozens of locations across Israel, including in major cities such as Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva. Millions of Israelis took refuge in shelters. Watch these ballistic missiles that were targeted at Jerusalem.

  • In addition, very loud “booms” were heard by vast swaths of the population. While most Israelis are familiar with the loud explosions of Iron Dome interceptions, the Arrow interceptions from last night were much louder, causing considerable anxiety for many citizens.

  • A nine-year-old Bedouin girl was seriously injured by falling shrapnel following the interception of a ballistic missile. She remains sedated in hospital and in critical condition. 

  • One Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base was hit; it sustained minor damage and no injuries.

 

The Defense

  • The IDF has said that 99% of the 331 incoming threats were neutralized.

  • While a precise breakdown has not been released, it is believed that numerous UAVs were intercepted over Iraq, Syria, and Jordan by US, British, and French forces.

  • In addition, and highly significantly, Jordan also shot down some of the UAVs over its territory, clearly placing the Kingdom in the Western, anti-Iranian camp, alongside the US and Israel.

  • The majority of the incoming weapons were intercepted by Israel’s multi-layered and technologically sophisticated aerial defense systems, in what is being described as a remarkable success. Those systems include Air Force fighter jets, the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow Three.

  • See these photos, and this video, of Israel Air Force fighter jets returning from a successful mission to down incoming missiles.

  • None of the UAVs or cruise missiles reached Israeli airspace, although some ballistic missiles crossed into the Jewish state.

  • In addition, Israel’s airspace was closed to commercial traffic, and large numbers of scrambled fighter jets could be heard crisscrossing the country in an added layer of defense.

  • The vast network of public shelters, including millions of homes with private “safe rooms” provided a final, additional line of defense.

  • Throughout the night, Israel’s top political and military leadership met in secure below-ground facilities at the Kirya - IDF’s military headquarters in Tel Aviv. See photos and video.

  • Israel’s President Isaac Herzog expressed his gratitude, tweeting, “Bless you dear soldiers and commanders of the IDF and IAF. Bless the coalition of nations led by the US and @POTUS. Bless my sisters and brothers, the people of Israel, for their exceptional show of resilience. Together, the forces of good will overcome the forces of evil.”

 

 

Home Front

  • Earlier in the evening, Israel’s Home Front Command had issued special orders, ordering many citizens to remain close to shelters, closing educational institutions, and barring many public activities. See full instructions here.

  • Today, the first day of the Passover school vacation in Israel, presents special difficulties for many families as scheduled day camps, educational activities, youth group trips, and more have all been closed and canceled.

  • Ben Gurion Airport was closed from 11:00 pm until 7:00 am today, presenting challenges for many on one of the busiest days of the year for air traffic.  As of the time of writing, airlines are trying to reschedule flights to the reopened international airport.

  • This morning, shares on the Tel Aviv stock exchange declined moderately.

 

Iran's Arsenal

  • In addition to its fighter jets, Iran has three main categories of weapons capable of reaching Israel:

  • Drones (UAV's):

  • These take around nine hours from launch to reach the Jewish state.

  •  The Iron Dome and other means can intercept them.

  • Cruise missiles:

  • These take around two hours from launch to reach Israel.

  • They can be intercepted by the Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems.

  • Ballistic missiles:

  • These weapons leave the earth’s atmosphere and take only twelve minutes from launch to reach Israel.

  • The Arrow defense systems can intercept them.

  • Iran also has 1.2 million soldiers in its armed forces (compared to Israel’s 795,000), 261 naval ships (compared to Israel’s 64), 1613 tanks (compared to Israel’s 3,501), and 336 fighter jets (compared to Israel’s 460).

  • Iran does not have a sophisticated aerial defense system in place.

 

What Will Come Next

  • Israel had vowed that any direct attack from Iran would result in devastating retaliatory strikes. Israel’s defense doctrine dictates that attacks such as those seen last night cannot go unpunished. Israeli military commentators are saying that Iran’s aggression yesterday was unprecedented and that a lack of response “will be misinterpreted as weakness in a neighborhood where one cannot appear to be weak.”

  • Nonetheless, Iran has said that it considers the episode to be over, suggesting it will not attack further. Iran also warned Washington that any backing of Israeli retaliation would result in US bases being targeted.

  • Since damage and injuries in Israel were minimal, the international community is keen to see the episode contained and not spread further.

  • While the US had earlier said that it might join in any retaliation against Iran should the Islamic Republic attack Israel, the Biden Administration now says that it does not want to see further escalation.

  • Many Israeli leaders, including Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, have said that Israel will retaliate, and cannot afford to lose Israel’s deterrence capacities by letting the Iranian attack pass without a response.

  • Israel now has numerous options, including:

  • Taking advantage of the situation and massively striking Iran, possibly hitting the country’s potential nuclear facilities.

  • Launching a lower-scale attack on Iranian territory.

  • Striking Iranian forces or interests in Syria, Iraq, or elsewhere.

  • Engaging in a cyber-attack against Iran.

  • Carrying out another form of offensive, using clandestine and espionage tools.

  • Exercising self-restraint and not responding.

 

International Reactions

  • The US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic, Argentina, and Paraguay all condemned Iran’s attack, as did UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrel.

  • President Biden issued a very strongly-worded statement condemning Iran and vowing to help protect Israel. He said, “I’ve just spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.  I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks – sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel.”

  • British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK would “continue to stand up for Israel’s security.”

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada “unequivocally condemns Iran’s airborne attacks against Israel,” adding, “We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

  • Germany’s foreign minister expressed solidarity with Israel, as did Argentinian President Javier Milei whose office said it “expresses its solidarity and unwavering commitment to the State of Israel.”

  • The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting today over Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel.

  • Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran early today in a show of support for the attack. Chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” were made by pro-government demonstrators in Tehran’s Palestine Square shortly after the attacks began.

  • In Chicago, pro-Palestinian activists clapped and resolved to prevent the United States from helping Israel after it was announced at a conference that Iran had launched drones at Israel. Similarly, in Toronto, pro-Palestinian protesters cheered as Iran fired missiles at Israel.

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

Jewish Federations

  • Jewish Federations has posted a statement and has been in close touch with all security partners and others.

  • Secure Community Network has released this update and CSI New York has urged the community to "stay calm and carry on." 

  • Our Israel Office, having activated emergency protocols, is working closely with our partners on the ground, and is in close contact with the Government of Israel and the IDF. We will continue to update as the situation develops.

 

 

For more information, please contact: Jewish Federations of North America’s Dani Wassner dani.wassner@jewishfederations.orgSubscribe to this twice-weekly update here.

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