Fears of war recede as Iran vows NOT to hit back over Israel strike… but Netanyahu’s surgical attack angers his Right-wing ministers, who wanted him to go ‘berserk’

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Written By Maya Cantina

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Fears of a Middle East war receded last night after Iran said it would not retaliate following Israeli missile strikes near its nuclear installations.

Israel’s muted show of force, which was criticised by hardline members of its coalition government, came after Iran sent 300 missiles and drones towards the Jewish state last Saturday.

There were no casualties in the Israeli attack, which came on the 85th birthday of the country’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. It centred on the province of Isfahan, home to several nuclear facilities, missile factories and an airbase. None of the nuclear sites was damaged.

Further explosions were reported near the northern city of Tabriz.

Iranian state TV said: ‘Three drones were observed in the sky over Isfahan.

A map showing reported explosions in Iran. Following Israel’s retaliation, Rishi Sunak led international pleas for de-escalation as he urged ‘calm heads to prevail’ 

Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran. In recent weeks, tit-for-tat exchanges between the regional powers have threatened to trigger a fully blown conflict

Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran. In recent weeks, tit-for-tat exchanges between the regional powers have threatened to trigger a fully blown conflict

Footage posted to social media which appears to show Anti-Aircraft Fire over the City of Isfahan in Iran.  The attack centred on the province of Isfahan, home to several nuclear facilities, missile factories and an airbase

Footage posted to social media which appears to show Anti-Aircraft Fire over the City of Isfahan in Iran.  The attack centred on the province of Isfahan, home to several nuclear facilities, missile factories and an airbase

‘The air defence system became active and destroyed these drones in the sky.’

Following Israel’s retaliation, Rishi Sunak led international pleas for de-escalation as he urged ‘calm heads to prevail’.

In recent weeks, tit-for-tat exchanges between the regional powers have threatened to trigger a fully blown conflict.

The latest shadow war began on April 1 when an Israeli rocket destroyed Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing at least seven people, including senior military figures.

On April 13, Iran launched its first major attack on Israel. UK fighter jets joined a US-led international coalition which shot down the terrifying array of projectiles. Remarkably, there were no fatalities.

The sheer scale of the Iranian assault led to calls by ultra-nationalist members of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet for Israel to ‘go berserk’. However, it appeared yesterday’s action was intended to signal Israel’s ability to strike sensitive targets inside Iran, rather than to do any damage.

Footage posted which appears to show a missile strike in Isfahan. It appeared yesterday's action was intended to signal Israel's ability to strike sensitive targets inside Iran, rather than to do any damage

Footage posted which appears to show a missile strike in Isfahan. It appeared yesterday’s action was intended to signal Israel’s ability to strike sensitive targets inside Iran, rather than to do any damage

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei. There were no casualties in the Israeli attack, which came on the 85th birthday of the country's supreme leader

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei. There were no casualties in the Israeli attack, which came on the 85th birthday of the country’s supreme leader

Damage caused by an airstrike which hit a building near the Iranian embassy in Damascus. The latest shadow war began on April 1 when an Israeli rocket destroyed Iran's consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing at least seven people, including senior military figures

Damage caused by an airstrike which hit a building near the Iranian embassy in Damascus. The latest shadow war began on April 1 when an Israeli rocket destroyed Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing at least seven people, including senior military figures

National security minister Ben Gvir could not hide his disappointment, describing the strikes as ‘lame’.

In another conciliatory move, Israel also gave the US a last-minute warning before launching the attack, US sources claimed yesterday. The tip-off may have been intended to appease US President Joe Biden, who had pleaded with Israel not to escalate the conflict.

Speaking at the G7 political conference in Italy yesterday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted the US had not taken part.

Former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Itamar Rabinovich, said the country had ‘tried to calibrate between the need to respond and a desire not to enter a cycle of action and counter-reaction that would just escalate endlessly’.

Last night, international diplomats were seeking further assurances from both countries that the attacks and counterattacks would stop.

They instead want to concentrate on preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. After seven months of conflict, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are said to be facing starvation and serious illness.

The Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry claimed yesterday that more than 30,000 have been killed since the terror group’s murderous attack on Israel on October 7, which left 1,139 Israelis dead.

National security minister Ben Gvir (pictured) could not hide his disappointment at Israel's response, describing the strikes as 'lame'

National security minister Ben Gvir (pictured) could not hide his disappointment at Israel’s response, describing the strikes as ‘lame’

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was ‘high time to stop the dangerous cycle of retaliation in the Middle East’. He also called on the international community to prevent further developments that could lead to ‘devastating consequences for the entire region and beyond’.

Experts took differing views of the evolving conflict last night, with one suggesting that Israel may engage in a ‘series of dispersed attacks over time’, taking on a strategy of ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

Middle East security expert Dr Andreas Krieg told the Mail: ‘I think a prolonged but manageable conflict is in Netanyahu’s interest.

‘That can be achieved by extending the conflict with Iran’s Axis of Resistance. This is a low-risk conflict that keeps Israel on high alert without the risk of becoming existential.

‘Israel might decide to engage in a series of dispersed attacks over time that are individually so negligible that Iran doesn’t have to respond… a strategy of ‘death by a thousand cuts’, which is difficult to deter.’

Andrew Borene, of threat intelligence firm Flashpoint, said: ‘It appears that Israel and Iran are now engaged in a very dangerous game of bilateral brinkmanship.’

Yossi Mekelberg, of the Chatham House international relations think-tank, said: ‘Wherever Israel looks right now, it sees Iran on its borders, even though Iran does not border Israel.’

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