Israel is weighing retaliation options against Iran, which attacked the country on Saturday, as the Biden administration ramps up calls for restraint.

Iran launched hundreds of ballistic missiles and suicide drones at Israel on Saturday — the vast majority of which were intercepted or missed their targets — in retaliation for Israel’s airstrikes on a diplomatic compound in Syria that killed several high-level Iranian military operatives on Apr. 1. Israel’s war cabinet convened on Monday to weigh response options as the Biden administration and European allies are calling on the country to deescalate the situation and embrace a diplomatic approach, rather than a military one.

President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday he needed to “take the win” from Iran’s failed attack, which was also deterred by U.S. forces in the region, underscoring concerns that an Israeli response could spark a broader regional conflict, a senior administration official told Axios. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a phone call on Sunday there must be a response to Iran, according to a U.S. official and source familiar with the call who spoke to Axios, though it’s unclear what such a response could look like.

Netanyahu asked the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to provide him with a readout of potential targets and strike options, including hitting a facility inside of Tehran or launching a cyberattack, an official familiar with the talks told The Washington Post. Israel will likely engage in some sort of retaliatory response, but it’s likely to be measured so as to not spark broader regional conflict, Gabriel Noronha, executive director of Polaris National Security and former State Department official, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Part of this is that the West would be smart if they actually offered tangible, real consequences on Iran to supplement or replace some of this kinetic action which Israel is considering. I think Israel still has to do something retaliatory, that can be kinetic, that can be cyber, that can be covert action, but they have to do something just to rebalance, or to settle the score,” Noronha told the DCNF.  “I don’t think in that Israeli response, they need to do anything lethal. I think if they take out either critical ballistic missile or drone-related infrastructure facilities, or perhaps oil-related, energy-related facilities, without causing the high casualties, I think that’s sort of a way to demonstrate, ‘Hey, you can’t go and launch missiles into our territory without consequence. But we’re not trying to turn into a tit-for-tat.’”

“Now the issue is that Iran is doing some interesting messaging. They’re basically saying, ‘If Israel responds, we will respond 10 times greater.’ That’s ridiculous, they don’t have like they don’t have the measures to do that unilaterally.”

Other experts differed, speculating that striking back at Tehran could open a new front of conflict between Israel and Iran, which may threaten Israel’s — already fighting a war in Gaza — national security.

It is unacceptable to allow Iran to launch an attack directly from within its soil when Israel strikes Iranian targets inside of Syria, Gallant reportedly told Austin.

“If Israel absorbs these blows, she will be alone, her deterrence eroded and [Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei’s] direct attacks normalized,” Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), said on Sunday. “Khamenei will go back to his proxy attacks, the world will just accept them and restrain Israel.”

“Time to hit the head of the Octopus,” Dubowtiz said. “But patience is a virtue.”

It is the first time Tehran has chosen to launch a strike from directly within its soil against Israel since Oct. 7, the day Hamas, an Iranian-backed terror group, invaded Israel and killed roughly 1,200 people, prompting a massive Israeli counter-offensive. Until Saturday, Iran has solely relied on its network of terror groups throughout the Middle East to launch attacks against Israel and its allies.

Netanyahu asked the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to provide him with a readout of potential targets and strike options, including hitting a facility inside of Tehran or launching a cyberattack, an official familiar with the talks told The Washington Post.

“Given the direct nature of Iran’s attack overnight, Israel will almost certainly choose to hit back inside Iran. But I think given pressure from the U.S. and others, that is most likely to be more using covert means,” Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said on Sunday. “Cyber attacks, assassination, or even sabotage of critical infrastructure inside of Iran. And those kinds of operations take time, which presumably buys us a bit of time here.”

“[Israel] may aim to combine cyber and kinetic operations. It could target the bases from which the drones and missiles were launched as well as Iran’s defense industries. It may also choose to decapitate key [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp] terrorists leadership and take aim at oil facilities,” Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran, said on Sunday. “On the more extreme end, it may seek to damage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, although U.S. support for that endeavor would be important. The others are not as dependent on American support as Israel has undertaken a variation of such operations before.”

Striking back at Tehran could open a new front of conflict between Israel and Iran, which may threaten Israel’s national security, retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a senior fellow and military expert at Defense Priorities, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“That is a fight Israel cannot win.  The Iron Dome system along with all the allied air power knocking down drones and missiles, performed brilliantly — this time. But Israel burned through a lot of interceptor missiles to knock down those cheap Iranian drones,” Davis told the DCNF. “It seems likely that Iran can produce a lot more Shahid and similar type drones than Israel has Iron Dome and Patriot interceptor missiles.

“If the two sides get into a sustained war measured in months, Israel may soon find itself with insufficient air defenses,” Davis told the DCNF. “Then even the slow-moving, unsophisticated Shahid drones would cause major harm to Israeli targets, as they pack a significant warhead and have excellent guidance systems.”

During their phone call on Sunday, Gallant told Austin that the current standoff with Tehran creates an opportunity to form “a strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran,” according to Axios. But Biden told Netanyahu during their phone call a day prior that the U.S. would not participate in or support an Israeli counterattack against Iran, which could spur Israel not to strike, Davis told the DCNF.

“Netanyahu is now in a tough position, because if he strikes into Iran now — and especially if he hits Iranian nuclear facilities — he may get condemnation from some quarters in the West,” Davis told the DCNF.

Biden has been criticized for taking a policy of appeasement toward Iran in a bid to try and deter the country from acting hostile to U.S. allies. The Biden administration allowed Iran access to billions of dollars after failing to enforce oil sanctions, paying “ransom” for six hostages in late 2023 and extending a sanctions waiver so that Tehran could have access to revenues made from Iraqi energy transactions.

“President Biden needs to face reality: His policies of appeasing Iran while waging political warfare against Israel led Tehran to conclude it could launch a massive attack on Israel and face no consequences,” Richard Goldberg, senior fellow at FDD, wrote on Sunday. “The White House has been showering Tehran with access to cash in hopes of incentivizing better behavior.”

“It’s quite logical for the mullahs to examine the record and conclude a strategic-level strike on Israel would end in two results: zero consequences for Tehran and pressure on Israel not to respond,” Goldberg said. “Israel, however, has no choice but to respond forcefully to this attack — imposing costs high enough on Tehran to turn the ayatollah’s calculation into a miscalculation.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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