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Israel shuts schools amid heightened alert over potential Iranian attack


Israel shuts schools amid heightened alert over potential Iranian attack

Israel has taken drastic measures in response to escalating tensions with Iran, closing all schools and canceling extracurricular activities starting Sunday. The move comes as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) remain on high alert for a possible attack from Iran, with dozens of planes ready to defend the country.

IDF Spokesperson Rear-Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a video statement that “Starting tomorrow morning and during the next few days, none of the educational systems, camp programs, and planned trips will take place.”

No public events with more than 1,000 people can be held, the Home Front Command stated.

Hagari urged Israeli civilians to be vigilant, to head to shelters upon hearing a warning siren, and to remain there for 10 minutes.

Schools had already gone on break, so the statement was largely symbolic but spoke to the growing sense of emergency due to the threats from Tehran, in the aftermath of an airstrike in Damascus on April 1, attributed to Israel, in which seven Iranian generals were killed.

Hagari told the Israeli public, “We are taking all steps possible to ensure your safety.”

“Since the start of the war, we have faced a variety of threats sent here by Iran’s proxies and adapted our defense and attack systems accordingly,” Hagari said, as he attempted to reassure the Israeli public that the IDF was “fully prepared.”

Defence preperations

“The air force’s defense and attack formations are on alert and dozens of planes are in the sky. We are conducting a situational assessment with our strategic partners, led by the USA, and we are maintaining close coordination with them,” he stated.

Hagari spoke as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situational assessment with IDF Chief-of-Staff Herzl Halevi and other senior defense officials and the security.

Gallant said the IDF was “closely monitoring a planned attack by Iran and its proxies against the State of Israel.”“We have added new capabilities – on land, in the air, at sea, in our intelligence directorate, within the State of Israel, and together with our partners, led by the United States.

“Iran is a terrorist state – the world is seeing this now more than ever,” he stated.

The war cabinet and the security cabinet met late Saturday night. In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Israel Katz canceled his scheduled trip to Hungary and Austria.

US National Security Council Adrenne Watson said that “This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours.”

She added that US President Joe “Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team and will meet with them this afternoon at the White House. His team is in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies.

“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,’ she stated.

In Washington, US President Joe Biden returned early to the White House from a weekend trip to Delaware to consult with his national security team.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Gallant for the second time this weekend. According to the Pentagon, the two men discussed the “urgent regional threats.”

Austin made clear, the Pentagon said, “that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.”

Jordan will temporarily close its airspace starting on Saturday night to all incoming, departing, and transit aircraft, state-owned Al Mamlaka news said on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, days after Tehran said it could close the crucial shipping route.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, saying it was linked to Israel.

MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Katz said in response, “The Ayatollah regime of Khamenei is a criminal regime that supports Hamas’ crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law.

“I call on the European Union and the free world to immediately declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now,” he said.

Video on Iranian news channels purporting to show the seizure included a figure abseiling from a helicopter onto a ship. Reuters was able to verify that the ship in the video was the MSC Aries but not the date it was recorded.On Tuesday the naval head of the Revolutionary Guards, Alireza Tangsiri, said it could close the Strait of Hormuz, which lies between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, if deemed necessary.

The ship’s seizure comes after half a year of attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group, which looked to retaliate against the Jewish State for its part in the Gaza war.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan posted on X Saturday that he had spoken with his Israeli counterpart Tzahi Hanegbi. “During the call, I reiterated the United States’ ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”

US Central Command (CENTCOM) Michael Erik Kurilla was in Israel on Friday and met with Gallant.

Biden on Friday said that he expected that an Iranian attack would occur “sooner” rather “than later.”His message to Iran, he said, was “don’t” attack Israel.

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will defend — help defend Israel. And Iran will not succeed.”

Germany warned its citizens to leave Iran, saying that there was a risk both of a sudden escalation in Tehran’s existing tensions with Israel and that Germans might be at risk of arbitrary arrest in the country.

“In the current tensions, especially between Israel and Iran, there is a risk of a sudden escalation,” the Foreign Office wrote in a fresh travel warning issued on Friday. “It cannot be excluded that air, land, and sea transport routes could be affected,” it added.

“German citizens are at concrete risk of being arbitrarily arrested and interrogated and being given long prison sentences. Dual citizens with Iranian and German nationality are especially at risk,” the Foreign Office said.The US, France, Russia, Poland, and India issued travel warnings.

The US embassy asked its staff and their families not to travel outside of “greater Tel Aviv (including Herzliya, Netanya, and Even Yehuda), Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas until further notice.”

France advised its citizens to refrain in the coming days from traveling to Iran, Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. It also asked that the families of diplomatic staff leave Iran.

India advised its citizens on Friday against traveling to Iran and Israel until further notice given the “prevailing situation in the region”.

India’s foreign ministry said citizens in the two countries should observe “utmost precautions about their safety and restrict their movements to the minimum.”

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