Iran launched a barrage of over 300 drones and missiles against Israel on Saturday night, marking a significant shift from decades of shadow warfare to open conflict between the two nations. Although most of the projectiles were intercepted before reaching Israeli airspace, a 10-year-old girl in Israel suffered serious injuries from falling shrapnel, and an army base sustained light damage, Reuters reported.

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz issued a stern warning on Sunday, vowing to retaliate against Iran at the right time and in the appropriate manner. Despite Israel and its allies, including the US, UK, and France, successfully thwarting the attack, financial markets in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries experienced slight declines on Sunday.

According to Hindustan Times, the escalation has also impacted global oil markets, with prices surging in the wake of the conflict. Bloomberg reported that Brent crude could surpass $100 a barrel if the situation escalates further, posing significant economic challenges for oil-importing countries like India.

India, in particular, has expressed serious concerns over the escalating hostilities between Iran and Israel, emphasizing the potential threats to regional peace and security. In its reaction, India called for immediate de-escalation of the situation and return to the path of diplomacy. New Delhi said its embassies in the region are in close touch with the Indian community in the region.

“We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. The MEA said India is closely monitoring the evolving situation in West Asia.

“It is vital that security and stability are maintained in the region,” it added.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement calling for immediate de-escalation and a return to diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

India, being one of the largest oil consumers and importers globally, faces heightened vulnerability to such disruptions. While the initial impact of the conflict on India’s trade with Israel remained minimal, further escalation could imperil India’s oil supply, given its heavy dependence on imports from the Middle East.

As per Hindustan Times report, to address this concern, the Indian government increased crude oil imports from Russia, constituting over 35 per cent of crude imports in 2023, in order to mitigate the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on oil supplies.

Reuters reported that oil prices are expected to rise on Monday, April 15, after Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend, but further gains may depend on how Israel and the West choose to retaliate.

The history of Iran-Israel conflict

The conflict between Iran and Israel has roots in decades of shadow warfare and clandestine attacks. The first direct Iranian attack on its arch-foe after a suspected air strike on Tehran’s embassy compound in Damascus on 1 April is part of a wider escalation since the war in Gaza began last year, but their enmity stretches back decades.

Iran and Israel — the Middle East’s most implacable foes — have a long history of shadow wars and clandestine attacks by land, sea, air and cyberspace.

1979 – Iran’s pro-Western leader Mohammed Reza Shah, who regarded Israel as an ally, is swept from power in an Islamic Revolution that installs a new theocratic regime with its opposition to Israel an ideological imperative.

1982 – As Israel invades Lebanon, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards work with fellow Shi’ite Muslims there to set up Hezbollah. Israel will eventually see the armed group as the most dangerous adversary on its borders.

1983 – Iran-backed Hezbollah uses suicide bombings to expel Western and Israeli forces from Lebanon. In November a car packed with explosives drives into the headquarters of the Israeli military. Israel later withdraws from much of Lebanon.

1992-94 – Argentina and Israel accuse Iran and Hezbollah of being behind suicide bombings on Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and a Jewish centre in the city in 1994, each of which killed dozens of people. Iran and Hezbollah deny responsibility.

2002 – Revelation that Iran has a secret uranium enrichment program prompts concern that it is trying to build a nuclear weapon, which it denies. Israel urges tough action against Tehran.

2006 – Israel fights Hezbollah in a month-long war in Lebanon but is unable to crush the heavily armed group.

2009 – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech calling Israel “a dangerous and fatal cancer”.

2010 – Stuxnet, a malicious computer virus widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was used to attack a uranium enrichment facility at Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. It was the first publicly known cyberattack on industrial machinery.

2012 – Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was killed by a bomb placed on his car by a motorcyclist in Tehran. A city official blamed Israel for the attack.

2018 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hails US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers after years of lobbying against the agreement, calling Trump’s decision “a historic move”.

In May, Israel said it had struck Iranian military infrastructure in Syria – where Tehran was backing President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war – after Iranian forces there fired rockets at Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

2020 – Israel welcomes the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, in an American drone strike in Baghdad. Iran strikes back with missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing American troops. About 100 U.S. military personnel were injured.

2021 – Iran blames Israel for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen by Western intelligence services as the mastermind of a covert Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons capability. Tehran has long-denied any such ambition.

2022 – US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid sign a joint pledge to deny Iran nuclear arms in a show of unity by allies long divided over diplomacy with Tehran.

The undertaking, part of a “Jerusalem Declaration” crowning Biden’s first visit to Israel as president, was made a day after he told a local TV station that he was open to “last resort” use of force against Iran – an apparent move toward accommodating Israel’s calls for a “credible military threat” by world powers.

2024 – A suspected Israeli air strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus kills seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, including two senior commanders. Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility.

Iran responds with the April 13 barrage of drones and missiles in an unprecedented direct attack on Israeli territory.

(This information was compiled by Angus McDowall and Michael Georgy, and edited by David Goodman, all affiliated with Reuters)

MTNews Desk

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