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Israel’s War Cabinet has yet to decide on Iran response, US urges caution

Some ministers call to form regional coalition to counter Iran

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Yoav Galant, and Minister Benny Gantz hold a joint press conference at the Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv on Nov. 11, 2023 (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/vie flash90).

Israel’s War Cabinet finished an hours-long meeting on Sunday evening without deciding on a response to the Iranian attacks, according to Israeli officials. 

While the Iranian attack on Israeli targets was almost completely thwarted on Saturday night and into early Sunday morning, the cabinet ministers made it clear that Israel should make some type of response. 

Israeli media reported that the War Cabinet would convene again on Monday afternoon to continue the discussions.

Just hours before the attacks hit Israel, the Political and Security Cabinet convened and granted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Minister Benny Gantz the authority to decide on Israel's response to Iran.

According to Reuters, several Israeli officials told the news agency the War Cabinet broadly supported a retaliation, however, the manner and timing of the response had not been agreed upon. 

According to the officials, Israeli leaders are also concerned not to draw a harsh response from the United States, which helped Israel to counter the attacks from Iran.

U.S. President Joe Biden encouraged Israel not to respond, calling the successful defense “a win” for Israel. 

Both Gantz and Gallant reportedly favor coordinating a response with the United States.

On Monday morning, Hebrew news reports stated the IDF had already presented Netanyahu, Gallant and Gantz with a plan of attack against Iran. 

A military source told several of news outlets that the IDF's plan could be implemented immediately following a decision by the political echelon. 

“We can hit deep inside Iran. Iranian defense will not be to stop us, and the Iranian regime will understand the strength of the IDF and the power of the State of Israel,” the source said. “The attack is necessary to deter our enemies and their understanding that whoever tries to harm Israel will find himself in a very serious problem.” 

The source also indicated that Israel is considering forming a regional security coalition after its response to Iran. 

“The IDF has no need for assistance from other armies, but there is no doubt that after such an operation deep inside Iran, a coalition will be formed against the terrorist regime and strangle it economically as well.” 

Many government ministers called for a firm response to Iran in the hours following the attacks on Sunday morning. 

Minister Miki Zohar claimed that “Israel received broad international legitimacy to strike Iran with unprecedented force. The extremist regime there has taken off its gloves and we must not be lax against the head of the snake that is working to destroy Israel.” 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Financial Minister Bezalel Smotrich were clear in their desire for a harsh response. “An impressive defense so far - now we need a crushing attack,” Ben Gvir said. 

Bezalel Smotrich said Israel should respond by going into Rafah, where Hamas terrorists still maintain control with four battalions. 

“As I warned, giving up Israel's red lines and pursuing Hamas for a deal only makes it more unlikely to bring everyone home. The time has come to learn lessons, change direction, continue to Rafah now, and restore full Israeli control over the entire Gaza Strip,” Smotrich said. 

Right-wing New Hope party leader Gideon Sa'ar believes Israel should not rush its response. 

“Last night, the impressive air defense gave Israel room for maneuver and strategic flexibility. So is the Iranian failure. You also need to know how to adopt strategic patience. Israel does not have to rush its response and disrupt the priorities it has set for itself,” Sa'ar said.  

“Now we must return the focus to the decisive decision in Gaza: toppling Hamas and releasing the hostages. It's the right and smart thing to do. The time for Iran will come,” he added. 

Gantz also called for forming a regional coalition and not taking focus off of the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.

“In the face of Iran's threat, we will build a regional coalition and make Iran pay the price, in the manner and time that suits us,” Gantz said.

“Even today, we must remember that we have not yet completed our missions – first and foremost, the return of the abductees and the removal of the threat from the residents of the north and south. We will continue the campaign, with determination and responsibility.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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