Israel intercepts 'vast majority' of strikes launched from Iran, IDF says

Sirens and explosions have been heard in Jerusalem - explosions believed to be Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting the Iranian drones

Israel has intercepted a "vast majority" of drones and ballistic missiles launched by Iran in an unprecedented revenge mission that could push the region closer to war.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Saturday that Iran launched over "200 different kinds" of drones, including killer drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.

Sirens and explosions have been heard across Israel including in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - explosions believed to be Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting the Iranian drones.

The IDF in a new statement confirmed a small number of hits had been identified at a military base in southern Israel, causing only minor damage to infrastructure.

The IDF also said a 10-year-old child has been severely injured by shrapnel from an interceptor missile.

However, there have been no reports of injuries from direct Iranian strikes, according to Israel’s emergency services.

President Joe Biden has said that the US helped "take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles".

The President and Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu have also spoken over the phone.

Footage from ITV News' Senior International Correspondent John Irvine shows Israeli defences intercepting drones launched from Iran over Tel Aviv

“We are monitoring the threat,” Hagari, announced in a nationwide television address.

The attack marked the first time Iran had ever launched a full-scale military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has said the attack is "self-defence" after an airstrike last week killed two Iranian generals in Syria.

Israel has not commented on that attack, but Iran accused it of being behind it.

Sirens heard over Jerusalem early on Sunday morning as Israeli forces intercepted more attacks (Credit: CNN)

It comes after Israeli aviation authorities said they were closing the country's airspace to all flights.

The country’s airport authority said the closure would go into effect at 12:30am local time (5:30pm EDT).

It said flights would be affected and advised travelers to check with their airlines for changes.

Earlier Saturday, the Israeli military said it was canceling school and limiting public gatherings to no more than 1,000 people as a safety precaution.

Israeli air defences intercept some Iranian strikes over Jerusalem early Sunday, local time. Credit: CNN

Israel 'prepared and ready' with help from the US

President Joe Biden has spoken over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a statement after the call, President Biden 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.".

The President also met with the National Security Council in the White House as the attack commenced.

Biden cut short a weekend trip to his beach house in Delaware to return to the White House and monitor the situation.

Two US officials said their air defences in the Middle East have already intercepted some Iranian drones on Saturday night.

Hagari also said there was “tight” cooperation with the US and other partners in the region.

The head of the US Central Command, General Erik Kurilla, has been in Israel in recent days to coordinate with Israel about the Iranian threats.

Israel has several layers of air defence capable of intercepting everything from long-range missiles to UAV’s and short-range rockets.

Hagari said Israel has an “excellent air defence system” but stressed it is not 100% effective and urged the public to listen to safety announcements.

RAF jets deployed to intercept airborne attacks, UK defence ministry confirms

The Defence Secretary said on X, formerly Twitter, that "we continue to work with Israel and partners in the region to prevent further escalation".

In a statement, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I condemn in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel.

"These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.

“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq.

“Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilise the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed.”

For days, Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have threatened to “slap” Israel for its Syria strike.

Iran has largely avoided directly attacking Israel, despite its targeted killings of nuclear scientists and sabotage campaigns on Iran’s atomic sites.

Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip has inflamed decade-old tensions in the Middle East, and any new attack threatens to escalate that conflict into a wider regional war.

'Neither the region nor the world can afford another war': UN chief joins worldwide condemnation

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned Iran's large-scale attack launched on Israel, alongside top politicians in France, Canada, Spain, Portugal, and Germany.

Guterres called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, expressing deep alarm over the potential for a devastating region-wide escalation.

"I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation," Guterres said.

"I urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East."

An Iranian demonstrator ignites a flare during an anti-Israel gathering in Tehran, Iran, early Sunday. Credit: AP

Iranians gather in anti-Israel demonstration as military attack unfolds

Iranian demonstrators ignited flares while others carried Palestinian flags during an anti-Israel gathering at the Palestine Square in Tehran, Iran, early on Sunday.

Also in Tehran, witnesses saw long lines at gas stations as people appeared worried about what may come next.

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