• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Biden returns to White House as Israel braces for Iran response

President Joe Biden is heading back to the White House to consult with his national security team about the Middle East as Israel restricted public life in preparation for a possible attack by Iran or its proxies.

Israel and its allies, led by the US, are bracing for an Iranian response to a suspected Israeli attack on Iran’s embassy in Syria on April 1. Iran said Saturday its forces seized an Israel-linked container ship near the Strait of Hormuz.

Biden, who was cutting short a weekend at his private residence in Delaware to return to Washington, has expressed full US backing for Israel’s defense — a pledge reiterated by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday.

While Israelis tried to go about their daily lives, officials stepped up preparations for a possible attack, including military measures and restrictions on public gatherings. The Home Front Command said it ordered a halt to educational activities for two days beginning Saturday night and limited gatherings to 1,000 people, or fewer in some areas.

“In recent days we have strengthened our defensive and offensive array and we are determined to take any measures required to defend” Israel’s citizens, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement Saturday. That includes adding capabilities on land, in the air, at sea and in intelligence within Israel and in partnership with the US, he said.