Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz vowed on Sunday that his country will “exact the price” for Iran’s overnight missile attack when the time is right, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government debates how to respond amid escalating regional tensions.

In a statement about the massive attack, Gantz appeared to caution Israel against immediate retaliation, instead expressing the need to first strengthen the kind of “strategic alliance” that allowed the country and its key Western allies to intercept what the military said were more than 300 drones directly from Iran.

“This event is not over — the strategic alliance and the regional cooperation system that we built and stood its significant test need to be strengthened precisely now,” the former defense minister said. “Israel proved yesterday that it is an anchor of military and technological power, and an anchor of security in the Middle East.”

Iran said that it carried out the missile attack in response to Israel’s deadly April 1 strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria. The Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations cited the U.N. Charter provision for legitimate self-defense under Article 51.

On X, formerly Twitter, Iran’s mission to the U.N. declared on Sunday that the attack can now “be deemed concluded,” but that there would be a “considerably more severe” assault if Israel decides to retaliate. Iran also warned the White House that supporting an Israeli retaliation would result in U.S. military bases being targeted.

“Now, whether and how the Israelis will respond? That’s going to be up to them. We understand that and respect that,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“But the president’s been very clear we don’t seek a war with Iran,” he continued. “We’re not looking for escalation here. We will continue to help Israel defend itself.”

Netanyahu has called for his war cabinet to meet on Sunday to discuss Israel’s response to the attack, while leaders of the Group of Seven met virtually on the matter. After the G-7 meeting, European Council president Charles Michel said that the group “unanimously condemned” Iran’s attack but stressed that “all parties must exercise restraint.”

“We will continue all our efforts to work towards de-escalation,” Michel said. “Ending the crisis in Gaza as soon as possible, notably through an immediate cease-fire, will make a difference.”

After Iran’s attack, Netanyahu said that his country “will win” and that the Israeli military is “ready for any scenario.”

“We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them,” he said.

According to Axios, President Joe Biden told Netanyahu in a call after the attack that the U.S. would not participate in a military offensive campaign in Iran. The president reportedly told the prime minister, “You got a win. Take the win.”

Gantz, who is considered by both Israel and the U.S. to be Netanyahu’s less extreme alternative, appeared to agree that Israel should not immediately react to the attack.

“Faced with the threat of Iran — we will build a regional coalition and exact the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” he said. “And most importantly — in the face of the desire of our enemies to harm us, we will unite and become stronger.”


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