Global leaders urged for peace on Friday following reports of Israeli reprisals against Iran, exacerbating the ongoing tension stemming from the Gaza conflict. 

World leaders appealed for calm on Friday after reported Israeli retaliation against Iran added to months of tense spillover from the war in Gaza, with Iranian state media reporting explosions in a central province.

Israeli officials made no public comment on the reported attack as Iranian officials played down its significance.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that the Israeli micro-drones used in the operation had caused no deaths or damage, dismissing it as a “desperate attempt to make a victory out of their repeated defeats.”

Israel had warned that it would hit back after Iran fired hundreds of missiles and drones at it almost a week ago. This was in retaliation for a deadly airstrike on April 1, widely blamed on Israel, that leveled the Iranian consulate in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards.

Air defense systems were activated over several cities, official media reported, after state television said that explosions were heard near Iran’s third city of Isfahan.

An unidentified Israeli official told The Washington Post that the “strike” was in retaliation for Iran’s drone and missile barrage, and intended to signal that Israel was able to hit inside Iran.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency, citing “informed sources,” denied that Iran had been attacked from outside.

Three Iranian officials told The New York Times that small drones carried out the “attack,” possibly launched from inside Iran, and that its radar systems had not detected unidentified aircraft entering Iranian airspace.

Fars news agency reported “three explosions” close to Qahjavarestan, near Isfahan airport and the 8th Shekari army airbase.

“Reports indicate there was no major damage or large explosions caused by the impact of any air threat,” the official IRNA news agency said.

Nuclear Sites Undamaged

Iran’s army commander-in-chief Abdolrahim Mousavi attributed Friday’s explosions to “the firing of anti-aircraft defense systems on a suspicious object.”

He said that there was “no damage,” according to Tasnim.

Nuclear facilities in Isfahan were reported to be “completely secure,” Tasnim said, and the UN’s atomic watchdog confirmed “no damage” to Iran’s nuclear sites.

Washington received advance notice of Israel’s reported strike, but did not endorse it or play any part in its execution, US media quoted officials as saying.

President Joe Biden had promised “ironclad” support for Israel, but also urged it to “think carefully and strategically” before launching a response against Iran that could trigger a wider war.

‘Space to Climb Down’

Analysts said that spiraling tit-for-tat violence could still be avoided, provided Iran continues to play down the reported Israeli strike and Israel takes no further action.

China, Iran’s largest trade partner, said on Friday that it would “continue to play a constructive role to de-escalate” Middle East tensions.

Russia said that it made clear to Israel that Iran “does not want escalation.”

Before this month, Iran and Israel had engaged in a shadow war of sabotage and assassinations for years. Now, those hostilities are out in the open.


With AFP