Israeli ‘diplomatic offensive’ urges sanctions against Iran

Push on partners to sanction Tehran comes as Israel mulls military retaliation for Iran’s weekend attack.

An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon on April 14
An antimissile system operates as Iran-launched drones and missiles target Israel [Amir Cohen/Reuters]

Israel has launched a “diplomatic offensive” against Iran, calling for sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Tuesday that he has contacted 32 countries calling on them to impose sanctions against Tehran. The move comes as Israel mulls a military response to Iran’s attack on Israel.

Iran says its attacks on Saturday, using more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, were in retaliation for Israel’s strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. That attack killed 13 people, including two commanders of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The Israeli military said it intercepted 99 percent of the aerial threats with the help of the United States and other allies, and that the attack caused only minor damage, including to a military base in the country’s south.

“Alongside the military response to the firing of the missiles and the UAVs, I am leading a diplomatic offensive against Iran,” Katz said on X.

“This morning, I sent letters to 32 countries and spoke with dozens of foreign ministers and leading figures around the world, calling for sanctions to be imposed on the Iranian missile project and that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be declared a terrorist organisation”.

Katz did not specify which governments he had asked to impose the sanctions. The IRGC is already blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the United States and is subject to EU sanctions.

“Iran must be stopped now – before it is too late,” Katz insisted.

Warning from Iran

Tension is high as Israel mulls its reaction to Saturday’s attack.

International pressure calling for restraint is rife from Tel Aviv’s partners amid fears that the war in Gaza threatens further escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and military commanders have pledged retaliation, albeit in undefined form for the meantime.

Chief of staff Herzi Halevi said on Monday that “this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response” but gave no details.

Against this backdrop, Iran warned on Tuesday that it will respond swiftly to any action against its interests.

“We categorically declare that the smallest action against Iranian interests will certainly be met with a severe, widespread and painful response against any perpetrator,” President Ebrahim Raisi told Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

Qatar has sought to play the role of mediator amid the Israel-Hamas war over the past six months.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani told state TV on Monday night that Tehran’s response to any Israeli retaliation would be “a matter of seconds”.

Iran will not wait for another 12 days to respond, he said, a reference to the delay between the April 1 strike on the Syrian diplomatic facility and Iran’s attacks on Israel.

The Ukraine connection

The attack by Iran had already prompted renewed discussion of sanctions in the West, updating a debate that has been provoked by Tehran’s supply of drones to Russia for its use in Ukraine.

Germany called on Tuesday for the European Union to impose new sanctions on Iranian drone technology.

“I campaigned in late autumn together with France and other partners within the European Union for this drone sanctions regime to be extended further … I hope that we can now finally take this step together,” Annalena Baerbock told a press conference in Berlin, ahead of a visit to Israel.

Source: News Agencies