US preparing new sanctions on Iran missile-drone programme

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GAZA: The United States announced Tuesday that it was preparing new sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone programme after its weekend attack on Israel, and the EU’s foreign policy chief signalled the bloc would levy new punitive measures as well.

Israel and Iran traded threats after Tehran’s first-ever direct attack on its arch-foe sharply heightened tensions in a region already on edge after six months of conflict in Gaza.

The onslaught in the besieged territory and its soaring civilian toll have revived the push for a two-state solution, with the UN Security Council preparing to vote Thursday on full United Nations membership for a Palestinian state, according to diplomatic sources.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Iran would not get off “scot-free” after Tehran and its allies launched a barrage of more than 300 missiles, drones and rockets at Israel.

“We cannot stand still from this kind of aggression,” Hagari said, a day after Israel’s military chief vowed there would be “a response” to Iran’s attack.

Iran has characterised the barrage as an act of self-defence following a deadly air strike on its consulate in Syria, saying that it would consider the matter “concluded” unless Israel retaliated.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi warned that “the slightest action against Iran’s interests will definitely be met with a severe, extensive and painful response”.

Al Jazeera reports that fighters in Gaza continue to launch rockets into southern Israel. Two missiles fired from the war-torn Palestinian territory on Tuesday caused no damage or casualties after landing in open areas, war monitors report.

Two US-based defence think tanks – the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) – also said that Israeli forces were operating on Tuesday around Beit Hanoon in the far north of the Gaza Strip and had ordered Palestinian residents in the area to leave, according to reports.

However, the Israeli military had “not issued official evacuation orders for the area”, according to the latest battlefield assessment from the ISW and CTP.

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