Israel-Gaza live updates: Drones launched in Iran approaching Israel; ‘multi-layered attack’ expected

Israel-Gaza live updates: Drones launched in Iran approaching Israel; 'multi-layered attack' expected

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JERUSALEM (WABC) — Iran launched dozens of drones and ballistic missiles toward Israel in an unprecedented revenge mission that pushed the Middle East ever closer to a regionwide war.

The attack marked the first time Iran had ever launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Israel is closing down its airspace after midnight local time.

PM Netanyahu said Israel’s defense systems are deployed. “We are prepared for any scenario, both in defense and attack,” he said in a video statement.

The Middle East has braced for potential Iranian retaliation over a suspected Israeli strike earlier this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria that killed 12 people, including a senior Guard general who once commanded its expeditionary Quds Force there.

Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger reports from Israel as New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan visits the region this week.

LIVE UPDATES

U.S. says it will provide unspecified support for Israel’s defense in Iran drone attack

The White House says it will provide unspecified support for Israel’s defense against an ongoing airborne attack from Iran.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a Saturday statement that “Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel.” She added: “The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps says extensive missiles, drones launched

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it has launched extensive missile and drone operations against targets in the occupied territories, according to Tasnim, the Iranian news-agency affiliated with the branch of Iran’s armed forces.

An Israeli source also confirmed to ABC News that Iran fired cruise missiles from Iraq as well.

In a post on X, the Iranian Foreign Minister said “necessary warning has been given to America.”

Wide concern in the White House that Iran’s retaliatory attack will cause widespread war

Sources at the White House tell ABC News there’s deep concern that an Iranian retaliatory strike against Israel — and the possible Israeli response — will widen this war.

President Joe Biden cut his weekend vacation short to consult with his national security team in preparation for this. They’ve been on high alert and knew this attack was imminent.

U.S. officials the military is prepared to provide assistance to defend Israel against attacks if needed.

The U.S. is already moving military assets to the region to deter Iran and help protect U.S. forces. Officials say they have been urging Iran against further escalation or attacks on U.S. forces. They’ve been stressing that the U.S. was not involved in the Damascus, Syria, strike earlier this month.

-ABC News’ Selina Wang

Iran’s leader confirms attack on Israel, says ‘evil regime will be punished’

Iran’s leader has confirmed that a retaliatory attack on Israel has begun.

“The evil regime will be punished”, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement on X.

Iranian state TV also confirmed the attack in a banner.

“The extensive drone operation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps against targets in the occupied territories has started a few minutes ago,” the banner said.

US official confirms Iran’s retaliatory strike has begun

A U.S. official has confirmed Israel’s announcement that Iran’s retaliatory strike has begun.

President Joe Biden will meet with principals of the National Security Council to discuss events in the Middle East Saturday afternoon. The meeting will take place in the White House Situation Room, the White House confirmed.

“Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel. President Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team,” the White House said in a statement.

“This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours. President 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,” it added.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez and Mary Bruce

Israel takes precautions ahead of potential attack

Ahead of an anticipated attack, the IDF announced that schools and educational institutions will remain closed across Israel as of 11 p.m. local time. Gatherings will also be limited to 1,000 people.

Jordan temporarily closes its airspace to all incoming, departing, transiting aircrafts

Starting Saturday night, the Jordanian airspace will be temporarily closed to all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft, Jordan’s Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority said in a statement.

Military sources confirmed to ABC News that Iran has more than 100 missiles ready for an attack. President Joe Biden says he expects a strike on Israel to happen sooner than later.

Biden will meet with his national security team

President Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house and was returning to the White House on Saturday to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East as Iranian launched an attack against Israel.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on X, formerly Twitter, that he spoke with his Israeli counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi on Saturday morning.

Sullivan said he “reiterated the United States’ ironclad commitment to the security of Israel” during their call.

In a statement on Saturday, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said “Iran will bear the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”

Hagari added that “Israel is on high alert. We have increased our readiness to protect Israel from further Iranian aggression. We are also prepared to respond.”

He also said the IDF is “prepared for all scenarios and will take the necessary steps – together with our allies – to protect the people of Israel.”

The IDF did not specify whether the statement is related to the seizing of the Israeli-owned ship.

In light of potential attacks, Biden ordered additional assets to the region in an attempt to deter Iran and protect the 3,500 U.S. forces stationed in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. State Department also ordered Israel-based employees to stay in the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan visiting the region

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York arrived in Israel on Friday to begin a weeklong peace mission throughout the region.

On Saturday Dolan planned to visit a home for abandoned babies and a seminary in Bethlehem.

The Cardinal is also planning to meet separately with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday and Israel President Isaac Herzog on Monday.

You can watch Eyewitness News Reporter Josh Einiger’s reports from Israel in the media player above.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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