The Biden administration remained silent on the Israel strike as the US sought to disassociate itself from the decision

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The Biden administration took a cautious posture on Friday, mirroring the wish of US officials to maintain some distance from Israel’s decision to launch a limited counterattack against Iran in response to last weekend’s attack.

Israel has not responded to the strike, which came to light early on Friday morning when state media reported hearing three explosions close to a significant military airbase near Isfahan. According to Iranian sources, there were no reports of a missile attack and three drones were intercepted by air defenses.

Although they claimed to have been informed by Israel of their intentions, American officials did not support or denounce the counterattack. 

According to a senior US official, Israel informed the US on Thursday that it would be taking revenge on Iran in the coming days, but the US “didn’t endorse the response.”

Rather, the US aimed to emphasize that Israel was the only one with this choice. “We had no involvement,” an official declared.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Israel warned the US through a number of different channels before launching its counterstrike against Iran. The warning did not come much in advance, but it also did not catch the US off guard. The Italian foreign minister indicated that the US was informed at the “last minute” of Israel’s threats to retaliate during the G7 foreign ministers’ summit in Capri. 

The informed party stated that the warning was sent out on Thursday.

Speaking at a G7 conference in Capri, Italy, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined almost any comment on the issue in his first public remarks since the counterstrike. However, he added, the G7 nations were dedicated to Israel’s security and aimed to prevent the conflict from getting worse.

Blinken stated during a press conference, “We’re also committed to de-escalating – to trying to bring this tension to a close.”

Additionally, he stated that the nations had “a commitment to hold Iran to account.”

US expected a muted response from Israel

Few people inside the White House thought Israel would do nothing, despite President Joe Biden’s advice to exercise restraint during a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last weekend. Biden suggested to his counterpart that since nearly all of Iran’s missiles and drones had been successfully intercepted, a counterattack might not be necessary.

Officials thought that Israel’s plans would be more constrained and intended as a warning to Iran. Authorities had requested that Israel notify them in advance of the plan.

Leading American and Israeli officials virtually conversed for a significant portion of Thursday, covering a range of subjects including the Iranian attack that occurred over the weekend and initiatives to strengthen Israeli security.

Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, a close ally of Netanyahu, and Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi participated in the discussions, which were facilitated by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

The US and Israeli sides first discussed the incident from last weekend in a smaller group setting before moving to a larger group of senior officials. Biden’s decision to impose further penalties on Iran was also discussed.

The sanctions, imposed in concert with other Western countries, seemed intended to convey the idea that retaliation against Iran didn’t always need to involve using force.

The extent to which the Israeli side briefed the American officials about the plans for countering the strike in Iran is unclear.

Plans for a ground assault of Rafah to pursue Hamas were the subject of another point of contention between the Israeli government and the Biden administration that was discussed during the broader meeting. Following the meeting, the White House stated that Israeli participants had “agreed to take these concerns into account” after American officials had “expressed concerns with various courses of action in Rafah.”

The disagreement was a sign that the fight against Hamas in Gaza is still going strong, despite the back and forth with Iran. The humanitarian crisis is getting worse, and talks for a truce have stalled.

After Iran launched an unprecedented attack against Israel this weekend, in which it launched over 300 drones and cruise missiles into the country—nearly all of which were intercepted—tensions in the Middle East have risen as a result of the current counterattack. The operation was a response to what was allegedly an Israeli strike on the facility housing Iran’s embassy in Syria earlier this month.