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Israel strikes back, explosions reported in Iranian city

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Tehran—Iran’s state media reported explosions in central Isfahan Friday.

Air defense systems over several Iranian cities were activated, state media reported, after the country’s official broadcaster said explosions were heard near the central city of Isfahan.

Israel had previously warned it would hit back after Iran fired hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel over the weekend. Most of them were intercepted.

Iran—a key backer the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah — launched the attack in retaliation for an April 1 strike on its consulate in Damascus that was widely blamed on Israel.

Iran’s Fars news agency reported “three explosions” were heard near the Shekari army airbase in the northwest of Isfahan province, while Iran’s space agency spokesman Hossein Dalirian said “several” drones had been “successfully shot down.”

“There are no reports of a missile attack for now,” Dalirian said on social media platform X.

Nuclear facilities in Isfahan were reported to be “completely secure,” Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported, citing “reliable sources.”

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres painted a dark picture of the situation in the Middle East, warning that spiralling tensions over the war in Gaza and Iran’s attack on Israel could devolve into a “full-scale regional conflict.”

“The Middle East is on a precipice. Recent days have seen a perilous escalation—in words and deeds,” Guterres told the Security Council.

“One miscalculation, one miscommunication, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable—a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved,” he said, calling on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint.”

As this developed, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir came under severe criticism for harming Israel’s strategy against Iran after he suggested Israel was behind blasts that rocked Iran on Friday.

Ben Gvir, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, wrote “Scarecrow!” on X, meaning feeble in Hebrew slang, a suggestion Israel was behind the blasts but its action was weak.

His comment swiftly sparked reactions on social media and television channels.

“Never before a minister has done such a heavy damage to the country’s security, its image, and its international status,” opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“In an unforgivable tweet of one word, Ben Gvir managed to sneer and shame Israel from Tehran to Washington.”

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim, an academic and host of a podcast on geopolitics, said that Ben Gvir “confirms the Israeli operation and ridicules it.”

“By doing so he undermines Israel’s power of deterrence. An absolute disgrace for a minister,” he wrote on X.

Later on Friday, Iran’s Tasnim news agency retweeted Ben Gvir’s post.

However, Tally Gotliv, lawmaker from Netanyahu’s Likud party cheered the developments in Iran.

“A morning of pride,” she wrote on X.

“Israel is a strong and powerful country,” added Gotliv, who is also a member of Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and security committee. AFP

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