Iran launches dozens of drones at Israel, one injured in attack: Recap

Members of the Palestinian Civil Defense retrieve the bodies of Palestinian citizens from under the rubble of homes destroyed during Israeli airstrikes on April 13, 2024, in Khan Younis, Gaza.

Editor's Note: This page is a summary of news on the Israel-Hamas war for Saturday, April 13. For the latest news on the conflict in the Middle East, view our story for Sunday, April 14.

WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, Iran launched an attack Saturday against Israel directly from its territory.

Iran sent a wave of drones toward Israel, a U.S. official told USA TODAY Saturday, as the country ramped up preparations for an Iranian strike amid soaring Mideast tensions. The official was not authorized to speak publicly.

The Iranians had been observed preparing drones to attack Israel, according to a second U.S. official briefed on the intelligence but not authorized to speak publicly.

The attacks were retaliation for a suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran’s embassy in Damascus, Syria last of Apr. 1. that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders. The move by Iran marks the most recent escalation in an inflamed Middle East that has been building for half a year − ever since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack in Israel detonated a retaliatory war against the militant group in the Gaza Strip.

"Our defensive systems are deployed; we are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address. "The State of Israel is strong."

Israel's military said fighter jets and navy vessels are "on a defense mission in Israeli airspace."

The attack is "likely to unfold over a number of hours," U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. President Joe Biden is set to meet with his national security team at the White House on Saturday afternoon and is being updated on the situation, Watson said.

"President Biden has been clear: Our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran," Watson said in a statement.

After the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, the small Mideast country maintained relations with Iran − an outlier from other Muslim majority countries in the region. After Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, the two nations turned into fierce rivals.


∎ Iran said it will not hesitate to take further "defensive measures" to protect its interests against any military aggression, the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday.

∎ Israel's national emergency service reported a 10-year-old boy in the Arad region had been injured. No casualties have been reported as a result of the attack.

∎ Biden returned to the White House to meet with national security advisers about events in the Mideast on Saturday afternoon, cutting short a weekend trip to Delaware, the White House said in a statement.

∎ Iraq and Jordan temporarily closed their airspace as Iran launched drones toward Israel Saturday. Jordan has helped Israel respond to the attack by shooting down dozens of Iranian drones, Reuters reported.

Israeli Ambassador to U.N. calls for emergency meeting of Security Council

Israel’s top diplomat to the U.N. called for the Security Council to meet immediately to condemn Iran’s attacks and to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

In a letter released Saturday night, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan wrote to U.N. Security Council President Vanessa Frazier said Iran’s drone and missile attacks at Israel was a “clear violation” of the U.N. Charter and international law, calling it a “severe and dangerous escalation.”

He pointed to Saturday’s attacks, as well as weapons transfers to Hamas, the Houthis and Hezbollah, among other Iranian-backed proxies, as evidence of violations that he said threaten international peace. He also cited Revolutionary Guards seizing a Portuguese civilian cargo ship earlier on Saturday.

“The time has come for the Security Council to take concrete action against the Iranian threat,” he said.

The 15-member Security Council includes the U.S. as a permanent member. Neither Israel nor Iran are current members.

IDF: Most Iranian missiles intercepted outside Israel’s borders, IDF base hit with ‘minor damage’

Israel said most missile launches from Iran were intercepted before crossing into Israel. On social media, Israel Defense Forces said its Aerial Defense Array and its “strategic allies” intercepted most launches before they hit Israeli territory. Still, IDF did identify “a small number of hits,” including at an IDF base in southern Israel. The base had minor damage to infrastructure, IDF said.

“Over the past few hours, many dozens of hostile aircraft, as well as dozens of cruise missiles, from Iran were identified approaching Israeli territory and intercepted,” IDF said. “Dozens of (Israeli Air Force) fighter jets are currently operating to intercept all aerial threats approaching Israeli territory.”

What is Israel’s Iron Dome?

The Iron Dome is Israel’s mobile missile defense system that is designed to find and shoot down short-range rockets fired at Israel. An all-weather system, the Iron Dome can also take down artillery and drones, and it can detect and engage rockets up to 40 miles away.

After becoming operational in 2011, it’s been upgraded over the years and has a high success rate. It’s part of Israel’s three-tiered air defense system that protects against short-range ballistic missiles, large-caliber rockets and cruise missiles, via David’s Sling, and also through Arrow-3, which provides defense against medium-range ballistic missiles.

Iran won’t hesitate to take more ‘defensive measures’ to protect ‘legitimate interests’

Iran’s foreign ministry said it would not hesitate to take further “defensive measures,” against any military aggression, Reuters reported.

“Iran, if necessary, will not hesitate to take further defensive measures to safeguard its legitimate interests against any military aggressions and unlawful use of force," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, according to state TV.

Iran would do so, the statement reportedly said, while reaffirming its commitment to the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law.

U.N. secretary-general ‘deeply alarmed’ by region-wide escalation

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he strongly condemned Iran’s “large-scale attack” on Israel. In a statement, he called for an immediate stop to the fighting.

“I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation,” he 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. I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war.”

Trump praises Israel, attacks Biden's leadership during Pennsylvania rally

Former President Donald Trump paid tribute to Israel and blamed President Joe Biden for Iran's attack during a campaign rally Saturday night in Pennsylvania.

"God Bless the people of Israel," Trump said at the start of a rally at a fairground in SchnecksvillePa., near Allentown.

Trump, who attacked Biden in a series of Truth Social posts earlier in the day, did not cite the president by name when discussing Israel, but did blame what he called weak U.S. leadership for the attack by Iran.

Echoing a Truth Social post earlier in the day, Trump said the attack "would not have happened" if "we were in office."

− David Jackson

Biden says commitment to Israel’s security 'ironclad'

President Joe Biden said that he met with his national security team for an update on Iran’s attacks against Israel.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” he said on social media.

Sirens, booms across Israel as 10-year-old critically injured

Sirens sounded off across Israel amid Iranian drone attacks, according to Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF issued a flurry of alerts on Telegram for sirens sounding from southern Israel to northern Israel. This also included Jerusalem, the Negev and Dead Sea regions, among others.

Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency service, said there were no casualties reported, but a 10-year-old boy in the Bedouin area in the Arad region is in critical condition. On social media, MDA said first responders were treating the boy.

It was unclear whether he was injured by missile fragments or an interceptor, Times of Israel reported.

Earlier, MDA said sirens sounded across the country but there were no reports of casualties aside from calls of “stress symptoms” and people injured running for cover.

Trump attacks Biden over Iran attack; claims it wouldn't have happened under him

Former President Donald Trump reacted to the attack by referring to himself.

"ISRAEL IS UNDER ATTACK! This should never have been allowed to happen - This would NEVER have happened if I were President!" the presumptive Republican presidential candidate said in one of a string of Truth Social posts.

In other posts, Trump taunted Biden for not giving a live speech on the attack, and said the U.S. would always stand behind Israel.

Trump may address the situation during a campaign rally near Allentown, Pa.

− David Jackson

Jordan shoots down dozens of Iranian drones to help Israel

Jordan shot down dozens of Iranian drones above northern and central Jordan en route to Israel, Reuters reported citing two security sources.

The news outlet reported Iran said it had been watching if Jordan made any moves seen as supporting Israel, warning that Jordan could be the next target, Reuters reported.

Iranian drone attack makes Israel attack on embassy ‘concluded,’ Iran U.N. mission says

Iran’s mission to the UN. said its drone attack against Israel marks the end of its response to Israel suspected bombing Iran's embassy in Syria in early April.

“The matter can be deemed concluded,” Iran’s mission said in a social media post Saturday evening. “However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!”

Lawmakers respond to Iran attack on Israel

Reactions from lawmakers were largely divided among partisan lines, with House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La, stating the "Biden Administration's undermining of Israel and appeasement of Iran have contributed to these terrible developments," and GOP Rep. Mike Crenshaw, R-Texas, arguing that "Biden signaled waning support for Israel. Now a potential war is erupting."

Other GOP lawmakers such as Sen. Roger Wicker, the top-ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the U.S. to stand with Israel.

“Our shared enemies, including Iran and their proxies, need to know our commitment is unwavering. We must join with Israel to ensure that Iran’s aggression is met with resolute action and resounding strength," Wicker, R-Miss., said.

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada also said, "The United States stands firmly with Israel and its right to defend itself against attacks from Iran and its terrorist proxies."

The senator said she would keep working to get legislation passed that provides additional military aid to Israel.

"What is happening now in the Middle East is why the house should have voted for the Senate passed security bill that supports Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan in their fight for sovereignty and democratic principles," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said in a X post, calling the U.S. the "backbone of the free world."

Drones key to Iran and its militias against U.S., Israel, researchers say

Drones have been key to Iran and militant groups it supports to attack U.S. forces and allies, according to the Iran Primer, a consortium of scholars who study the country.

Iran first developed rudimentary drones during its war with Iraq in the 1980s, Iran Primer's article said Friday. Today, Iranian drones are used for combat as suicide drones that explode on impact, or by traveling long distances to launch munitions at targets. They are also used for surveillance to identify targets using photo and video.

Iran began sending drones to Hezbollah, the militant group it backs in Lebanon, in the 2000s. In 2006, Hezbollah used drones against Israel in its 34-day war. They’ve reportedly since been used against ISIS militants, as well as in attacks in Saudi oilfields and in Iraq against U.S. military and diplomatic targets. Since 2022, Iran has supplied Russia with drones starting to use against civilian and military targets in Ukraine. Iran’s use of drones has increased in Syria, Iraq and Jordan after the war began between Hamas and Israel. In January, an Iranian-made drone killed three American soldiers in Jordan, while Houthi militants, backed by Iran, used Iranian-designed drones to attack ships in the Red Sea.

While some Iranian drones are small, carrying as little as 7 pounds of explosives, others can have payloads of up to 1,240 pounds. Many are modeled on captured American drones, Iran Primer said.

Plans in place ahead of drones, defense not ‘hermetic,’ IDF says

Israel plans to cut GPS services in certain areas as part of its plan to counter Iran launching drones at the country, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a briefing Saturday evening.

“The IDF and the Israeli Air Force are implementing the plan we prepared in advance,” Hagari said in remarks. “As part of the preparations, GPS services will not be available in certain areas - the disruption is deliberate and according to plan. If we detect additional threats with a shorter arrival time, we will update you immediately.”

Hagari reminded Israelis of Home Front Command, which helps prepare civilians for conflicts or disasters. With sirens activated, IDF said people must enter shelters and remain there for no less than 10 minutes, though he said it could be longer. He encouraged Israelis to act responsibly and calmly. The IDF remains cooperating with the U.S. and partners in the region to counter launches and intercept them, he added. Protection includes the Israeli Air Force and Navy personnel, as well as the Aerial Defense Array, which includes the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System.

The defense is not “hermetic,” he said, adding it’s crucial to follow the country's Home Front Command.

U.S. promises to support Israel in face of Iran attack

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke Saturday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and “made clear that Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies,” according to a readout of their call provided by Pentagon press secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan also affirmed the U.S.' "ironclad commitment to the security of Israel" in a call with his counterpart in Israel, Tzachi Hanegbi, Sullivan said Saturday.

Netanyahu said in an address he appreciates the U.S. and other allies' support.

How long until the Iranian drones reach Israel?

The dozens of drones that were launched could take hours to arrive, according to Israel's top-rated Channel 12 TV news. Retired general Amos Yadlin told the channel the drones were equipped with 20 kg of explosives. Israel's military said sirens will sound in any threatened areas. Iran has threatened to retaliate for an April 1 attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed seven of its military commanders. Iran blames Israel for the attack, but Israel has not confirmed or denied involvement.

Iran readies missiles for potential attack, US official says

Iran has been observed preparing cruise missiles for use in a potential attack on Israel, according to a U.S. official briefed on the matter.

Meanwhile, national security officials remained focused Saturday on Iran’s next steps, a second official said. Both officials were not authorized to speak publicly.

Biden confirmed Friday that U.S. intelligence showed that an Iranian attack on Israel could happen soon. Iran has vowed revenge for the April 1 airstrike. Iran blames Israel for the airstrike; Israel has not publicly acknowledged its role in the attack.

Iran’s anticipated retaliation comes as tensions have spiked in the Middle East as Israel’s war against Hamas continues. The Pentagon has bolstered defenses for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the region in advance of the prospect of an imminent attack on Israel and Western interests.

More: Israelis ask if world has forgotten their hostages six months after the trauma of Oct. 7

More: Pregnant women in Gaza Strip face starvation, no anesthesia after 6 months of war

Iranian forces seize ship with ties to Israel in Strait of Hormuz

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized an Israel-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday.

Iranian state media reported that the MSC Aries ship, which carries a Portuguese flag, was taken into Iranian waters. The ship's operator, MSC, confirmed the seizure by Iran and said it was working with authorities to ensure its return and the safety of the crew.

The crew includes Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian, according to White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson. Watson said the seizing of a "civilian vessel without provocation is a blatant violation of international law" and an act of piracy.

"We strongly condemn the Iranian seizure of the Portuguese flagged, British-owned MSC AIRES in international waters," Watson said on X.

Ship incident comes amid Houthi attacks in Red Sea

The Iran-backed Houthi rebel group in Yemen has been attacking ships in the Red Sea for months, saying it aims for Israel-linked ships.

The ship seized on Saturday is owned by Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac is partly owned by an Israeli businessman. Zodiac said in a statement that MSC leases the Aries and is responsible for its activities.

"Iran will bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further," said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for Israel's military.

Hasan Alhasan, an analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters that if the seizure of the ship is in retaliation for the April 1 attack, it may indicate Iran's desire to save face without causing a wider escalation of the regional conflict. "Iran may be trying to play on fears that it could obstruct shipping through the strait, a passageway of greater significance to global oil and gas supplies than the Red Sea," Alhasan said.

Body found of missing Israeli teen

Israeli officials said the body of a 14-year-old boy who went missing near the Malachei Shalom outpost on Friday morning was found Saturday in the West Bank.

Binyamin Achimair's death was a "terrorist attack," the Israeli military said, while Netanyahu vowed the perpetrators would be found.

Israeli forces were searching "from the air and on the ground" Friday, while groups of Israeli settlers stormed a nearby Palestinian village and set fire to houses and cars overnight. One person was killed and several injured in the conflict, Palestinian officials said.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law by most of the world, which Israel contests. The settlements house Israeli citizens in the occupied land.

Contributing: Reuters

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel war updates: Iran launches drones at Israel in revenge strike