Biden vows G7 response, ‘ironclad’ US support for Israel after Iran attacks

The US president reiterates support for Israel in call with Netanyahu amid reports that he is also opposed to a counterattack against Iran.

A MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter lifts off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as it transits the Strait of Hormuz off the waters of Iran [File: US Navy/Reuters]

US President Joe Biden has condemned the Iranian drone attacks on military facilities in Israel, reiterating Washington DC’s “ironclad” support and a coordinated Group of Seven (G7) diplomatic response, even as reports started to emerge that he is also seeking to de-escalate the situation.

Biden cut short a trip to Delaware and returned to the US capital to meet advisers following the late Saturday night attack, the White House said in a statement.

The statement said that US forces and facilities had not been hit, adding that the US helped Israel in taking down “nearly all” of the attacking drones and missiles.

The US president also he reiterated the “ironclad” support for Israel’s security in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has had strained relations over Israel’s handling of the war in Gaza.

“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,” the White House quoted Biden as saying.

“Tomorrow, I will convene my fellow G7 leaders to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack,” he said.

Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a retaliatory strike that raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

Tehran had pledged to retaliate for Israel’s attack on Iran’s embassy compound last week in Damascus that killed a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s overseas Quds Force and six other officers.

‘Vigilant to all threats’

Biden said he had directed the US military to move aircraft and ballistic missile defence destroyers to the region over the past week.

“Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our service members, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” he said.

Biden said his team would coordinate with counterparts across the region and stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders.

“And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people,” he said.

Amid the tensions, US media reported that Biden is looking to de-escalate.

Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor, James Bays, said that “behind the scenes, there is a great deal of pressure on Israel to show restraint.”

News outlet Axios said Biden told Netanyahu in the same phone call that he would oppose an Israeli counterattack against Iran, advising the Israeli leader that he should “take the win”.

NBC said he had also privately expressed concerns to others that Netanyahu was trying to drag th0e US more deeply into a broader conflict.

Meanwhile, CNN quoted a senior White House official as saying that Biden told Netanyahu that the US will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran.

“If he [Biden] will have an all-out war, the economic effects of that, the oil price and other things would be so catastrophic” and “potentially” place his re-election effort in peril in November, Al Jazeera’s Bays said.

On Saturday, Biden met his top security officials in the White House Situation Room, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA Director William Burns.

Biden had warned Iran against retaliation even while predicting that the attack was imminent.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies