China urges restraint after Iran’s strike against Israel; Israel’s air defense system to face significant pressure: experts

Iran launched large-scale drone, missile attack against Israel on Sunday. Photo: Xinhua

Iran launched large-scale drone, missile attack against Israel on Sunday. Photo: Xinhua

China expressed deep concern on Sunday over the current escalation following the Iran’s military strike on Israeli territory and called on relevant parties to exercise calm and restraint to prevent further escalations. 

The ongoing situation is the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict. There should be no more delays in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2728 and the conflict must end now, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Sunday. 

China calls on the international community, especially countries with influence, to play a constructive role for the peace and stability of the region, the ministry said. 

Some experts told the Global Times on Sunday that Iran’s choice to use drones for the attack has the advantage of being cost-effective and difficult for the opponent to intercept, putting significant pressure on Israel’s air defense systems. 

If military conflict between Iran and Israel escalates, the likelihood of US intervention will increase, experts said. 

Over 200 missiles and drones have been launched from Iran to Israel, and the vast majority were intercepted but an unknown number of missiles fell in Israeli territory, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari was quoted as saying in media reports on Sunday. 

One strike led to “slight damage to infrastructure” at a military base in southern Israel, according to media reports. 

A Russian news agency reported on Sunday that the anonymous Israeli officials claimed to Ynet that 99 percent of Iran’s projectiles were intercepted. 

Israeli officials also said that for the first direct attack by Iran on the Jewish state, a decisive counterstrike is necessary. 

Israeli officials had said they would respond to any attack by Iran with a counterattack, which could prompt further retaliation from Iran and possibly expand into a wider regional war, the New York Times reported on Friday. 

Iran’s mission to the UN said that following the launch of the drones toward Israel, Tehran now considered that its retaliation for an attack on its diplomatic compound in Damascus to be over, the Wall Street Journal said. 

A Chinese national living in Jerusalem told the Global Times that around 3 am local time on Sunday they heard the sound of air raid sirens and explosions, but it has now calmed down. “We were open for business as usual yesterday, and we have not received any notice today.”

The Chinese Embassy in Israel once again reminded Chinese nationals in Israel to closely monitor the local security situation and embassy safety alerts, while maintaining safety precautions, avoid unnecessary outside activity, stay away from high-risk areas and sensitive locations, enhance awareness, guard against complacency, strengthen security measures.

The Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Syria on April 1 left several senior Iranian military officials dead , including a senior officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, with Iran immediately threatening to retaliate against Israel, according to media reports.

A military expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday that it was clear that Iran’s purpose in launching the attack was to retaliate for the bombing of the Iranian embassy by Israel.

Iran intended to respond with a tit-for-tat, blood-for-blood attack, as a warning to Israel not to act recklessly, the expert said, noting that the advantage of using drones for the attack is that they are cost-effective and, as low, slow, and small targets, they are difficult for the opponent to intercept.

Wei Dongxu, editor of a military program on Global News Radio, told the Global Times on Sunday that Iran’s suicidal drones have a very long range, reaching hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. 

“Although drone technology and structure are relatively simple, they have their own advantages. Drones fly in low-altitude areas, using swarm tactics to overwhelm the opponent’s air defense system, allowing for saturation attacks on targets within the region,” Wei said. 

For Israel, even if its “Iron Dome” defense system can intercept suicide drones, if there are a large number of drones in a short time, Israel’s air defense system will face significant pressure. Additionally, Iran also has the capability to supply suicide drones to pro-Iran armed groups in the Middle East, allowing them to use forward launch positions near Israel to engage in coordinated attacks, Wei said. 

Wei pointed out that Iran is equipped with ballistic missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers and cruise missiles with a range of over 1,000 kilometers. Tehran’s firepower can cover most of the Middle East region, representing a fierce and precise long-range retaliatory means.

“Facing a large-scale Iranian drone and missile attack, Israel’s air defense and missile defense systems are unable to fully defend saturation attacks by ballistic missiles and suicide drones. Once Israeli air force bases are struck, the Israeli military’s counterattack capability will also be weakened,” Wei said.

The same military expert said that Iran would assess the possibility of launching multiple waves of attack, with the most important factor being to observe the reactions of the US and Israel. If the US and Israel respond with counterattacks, Iran might launch a second and third round of attacks, potentially escalating the conflict further, the expert said.

Wei also said that the current situation in the Middle East is complex. Iran’s retaliation is primarily in response to the calls of its own people, while also demonstrating strength and determination in the current turbulent regional situation. However, Iran does not wish to be drawn into a large-scale conflict or war.

After the start of the Iranian attack, Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, issued a statement saying that “this attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours. President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad.”

Next, we need to observe how Israel takes action and how the US intervenes, the military expert added. 

Observers predicted that Israel might retaliate, hoping to involve Iran in a regional war and thereby pull the US into the mire, which is Israel’s goal, the expert said. 

The current Biden administration’s support for Israel has waned recently, and Israel is trying to tie the Biden administration down, hoping to regain its strong support. However, the US attitude is somewhat ambiguous. If Iran and Israel engage in large-scale warfare, the US will be drawn into it, which is “something the US does not wish to see,” the expert added. 

The US would respond differently depending on the development of the battlefield situation, another expert on US affairs who preferred not to be named told the Global Times on Sunday. 

“Israel can strike opponents in the Middle East with impunity because it has the support of the US. Currently, the US policy toward Israel does not offer much flexibility, being led by the nose by Israel, with little room for compromise. Once Israel suffers a major military setback, the US will have no choice but to intensely intervene in the war,” the expert said. 

The expert also suggested that the US has two ways to intervene. The first is for the US to use its air defense weapons to shoot down missiles launched by Iran, which is likely to be the more probable method; the second is for the US to deploy a large volume of military resources to the conflict area, a possibility that always exists. 

However, the US is currently working hard to avoid this scenario. The US does not want to see an escalation and loss of control in the military conflict between Iran and Israel. 

“From a global strategic perspective, the US does not want to commit too many resources to the Middle East, as this would affect US aid to Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as its strategic planning in the Asia-Pacific region,” the expert said.