A view from Tel Aviv: Under the skies of Iran's attack on Israel

ITV News' Senior International Correspondent John Irvine describes what he saw as Israeli defences intercepted drones launched from Iran over Tel Aviv

“That’s something you don’t see very often,” said ITV News cameraman Sean Swan. “Iranian missiles being shot out of the sky over Israel.”

Actually, it’s something no-one has ever seen before. This was unprecedented.

Last week, US intelligence sources were saying the target of Iranian retribution would probably be the sparsely populated Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967.

The Golan would have been the most innocuous of objectives because they are not officially part of Israel.

In the end, the aerial assault was much more widespread. Hundreds of drones and missiles were unleashed.

But they hit a brick wall of air defences so formidable that the Israelis are claiming 99% were intercepted, many before they even reached Israeli air space.

When push came to shove, a coalition was there to help in the defence of Israel.

Led by the Americans, it included the UK, France and Jordan. The Jordanians are sick of Iranian agitation.

US air defence systems in Jordan, Iraq, and aboard ships in the Red Sea, will have done much of the work.

RAF jets out of Akrotiri in Cyprus joined aircraft from Israel and the US in taking out drones in particular.

We’ve seen the Iron Dome defence shield used frequently over the last six months. It’s been intercepting rockets fired out of a Gaza.

But the intercepts we watched in the early hours of this morning were or a different order, occurring at high altitude, some perhaps even outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Israel's Iron Dome responding to an Iranian drone and missile attack over the weekend. Credit: CNN

I watched as falling debris appeared to burn up, the way a visible meteorite does.

Iran has crossed a red line and a decades long clandestine conflict just came out into the open with the first blatant attack on Israeli soil from Iranian soil.

On the face of it, this is escalatory and Israel will feel the need to counter-attack.

However, the Iranian barrage was much more consequential in principle than in practice.

The Americans had asked Tehran to give some kind of warning and a barrage that took four hours to reach here meant Israel and Israelis had plenty of time to prepare.

Also, at least 40 minutes before any ordnance actually reached here Iran declared its retaliation complete.

The Iranian mission at the UN declared the attack on Israel “can be deemed concluded.”

President Joe Biden has apparently told the Israelis that the US will not support any counter-attack.

Joe Biden, along with members of his national security team, receive an update on an ongoing airborne attack against Israel by Iran. Credit: AP

But there are plenty of military and political figures in Israel who have wanted an excuse to attack Iran’s nuclear sites and now they have one.

And they will be wondering if Iran has anything left in its quiver if this keeps going.

Iran’s biggest remaining asset is probably Hezbollah in Lebanon. They have tens of thousands of sophisticated missiles that, fired from such short range, might be capable of overwhelming Israel’s defences.

What might also give Israel pause is the coalition that came to its aid when the chips were down and at a time when this country felt increasingly isolated because of Gaza.

It would be rational not to strain that partnership further. But war is often not rational.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...