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Israel prepares air force to hit Iran ‘clearly and forcefully’ in response to missile barrage: report

( NYPost )

Israel has decided to hit Iran “clearly and forcefully” and is already preparing its warplanes to carry out the strike, according to a report on Monday. 

The reported decision comes after two war cabinet meetings in which leaders of the Jewish nation debated how to respond to barrage of 350 suicide drones and missile.

Israel’s Channel 12 news carried the report — which was widely picked up in local media.

Channel 12 said the country’s air force — which includes US-made F-16, F-15 and F-35 fighter jets — is already gearing up to deliver a retaliatory counter-strike against the rogue Islamic nation, though no timeline was provided.

According to the report, the strike will be intended as a message that Israel “will not allow an attack of that magnitude against it to pass without a reaction.”

However, Israeli leaders also hope the response will not spark a wider war, the unsourced report said.

President Biden and allies have urged Israel to exercise restraint, with Biden reportedly telling Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu that the US would not back a counter-attack. 

Israel’s military chief Lt. Gen Herzi Halevi confirmed Monday that Iran’s actions “will be met with a response,” but he also declined to elaborate or indicate the timing.

At a White House press briefing Monday afternoon, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called Iran’s missile attack against Israel “a spectacular and embarrassing failure,” and said the key US ally is in “a far stronger strategic position” today than before the attack.Kirby deferred questions about whether he expected the US to be briefed ahead of an Israeli military response.

“That is an Israeli decision to make. Whether and how they’ll respond to what Iran did on Saturday we’re going to leave squarely with them.”

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned his US counterpart Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the Jewish home state has “no choice” but to retaliate against the rogue Islamic Republic after it launched hundreds of missiles and suicide drones into Israeli airspace on Saturday night, according to an Axios correspondent Barak Ravid.

Iran’s aerial assault was in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Damascus on April 1 in which a top Iranian general was killed

 Israeli media later reported that the target of the strike — Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi — was a key planner of the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed more than 1,100 people and sparked the war in Gaza.

Israel — working with a coalition of unlikely allies, included the US, the UK, France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — was able to stop 99% of the 350 weapons launched by Iran.

None of the drones or cruise missiles struck Israel, and only a few of the ballistic missiles made it through, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The debate over how and when to strike back at Iran prompted Israel to delay a long-anticipated military incursion in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, The Times of Israel reported Monday.

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