David Cameron condemns Iran’s ‘failed’ attack as he urges Israel not to retaliate

Lord Cameron urged Israel not to retaliate and told the country to ‘take the win’

Zoe Grunewald
Monday 15 April 2024 08:55 BST
The prime minister confirmed the RAF shot down a number of Iranian drones

The foreign secretary said Iran’s attack on Israel was a “double defeat” for Tehran as he urged Benjamin Netanyahu to “take the win” and not retaliate.

Lord Cameron said the weekend attack – which saw the country launch an unprecendeted assault against Israel using more than 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles – was a “failure” and has “revealed to the world their true nature as the malign influence in the region”.

The former prime minister also urged Israel to “think with with head as well as heart” as he said that “the right thing to do is not to escalate”.

The weekend’s assault was launched in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel upon an Iranian consular building in Syria earlier this month, which killed two Iranian generals. It marks the first time a direct military assault has been launched by Tehran on Israel despite enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Lord Cameron told Times Radio on Monday: “Israel has every right to respond as an independent sovereign country being attacked in this way. But I think we’re very anxious to avoid escalation and to say to our friends in Israel ‘it’s a time to think with with head as well as heart’.

“And in many ways this is a double defeat for Iran. Not only was their attack an almost total failure, but also the rest of the world can now see what a malign influence they are in the region and understand their true nature.

Foreign secretary Lord Cameron said the attack had been a double defeat for Iran (Sky News)

“And so I think it is right for Israel not to escalate, but obviously they’re a sovereign, independent country and they’ll make their own decisions.”

The attack has renewed fears about a widening regional conflict in the Middle East as Western leaders desperately try to de-escalate the situation.

G7 leaders held a call last night with Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden amid fears of further retaliation in the event of a possible Israeli counter-strike. Tehran has threatened a “heavier” response if Washington co-operates with any further Israeli military action against it.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Lord Cameron said the UK “wouldn’t support retalitatory action” and was pushing for “de-escalation”.

When asked what he meant by de-escalation, Lord Cameron said it meant “not having a another wave of attacks” and “focusing instead on putting the pressure on Hamas to release the hostages, pause of fighting in Gaza and then we can flood aid into Gaza”.

He added that it was important to “get the hostages home after over six months in full captivity and try and deescalate the situation while getting the whole world to recognise what a malign influence Iran is in the region, and looking at sanctions and other pressures can be put on Iran.”

Cameron urges Israel to 'think with head as well as heart' after Iran attack

Speaking on Times Radio, he added: “The best thing to do in the case of Israel is to recognise this has been a failure for Iran.

“And so they should, as President Biden has said to them, as it were, take the win and then move on to focus on how to eradicate Hamas in Gaza and how to get those hostages free.”

When asked how much influence the foreign secretary believed the UK had over conflict in the Middle East, Lord Cameron responded: “Right from the beginning, we’ve talked about the importance of getting aid into Gaza and I was attacked for being too aggressive about this. But we’ve now seen... Israel saying we’re going to allow more aid into Gaza,"

On Sunday, Mr Sunak confirmed that RAF jets shot down “a number” of Iran’s attack drones. Speaking to journalists in Downing Street, the prime minister confirmed the UK’s military action and said if Iran’s attack on Israel had been successful “the fallout for regional stability would be hard to overstate.”

Rishi Sunak said if the attack had been successful ‘the fallout for regional stability would be hard to overstate’ (PA Wire)

Lord Cameron said he "wouldn’t overstate what we did on Saturday night” but added: “nonetheless, we did provide our plans to backfill for the Americans on the operation we jointly do to suppress ISIL and Daesh in Iraq and Syria. And that allowed America to do more to protect Israel from attack.”

He also praised the “bravery” of the pilots who intecepted the missiles, adding: “But at the same time we said to our pilots that if they were drones or missiles coming in from where they were, they should shoot them down and they did and that’s a testament to the skill to their brilliance to their bravery, and we should be very proud of them.”

The military action comes as Parliament returns from Easter recess today, where it is widely anticipated that the prime minister will address MPs regarding the military action taken over the weekend.

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