The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday. The Israeli military says Iran fired more than 100 bomb-carrying drones toward Israel. Hours later, Iran announced it had also launch much more destructive ballistic missiles.

Iran had been threatening to attack Israel after an airstrike earlier this week widely blamed on Israel destroyed Iran’s consulate in Syria, killing 12 people, including two elite Iranian generals.

Israel has made missile defense a priority, with a variety of air-defense systems available to shoot down incoming missile and drone fire.

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s six-month war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The war erupted after Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two militant groups backed by Iran, carried out a devastating cross-border attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others.

An Israeli offensive in Gaza has caused widespread devastation and killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Currently:

— President Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

Here is the latest:

IRAN SAYS IT HAS FIRED BALLISTIC MISSILES AT ISRAEL

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency says Tehran has fired ballistic missiles at targets inside of Israel. The announcement came shortly after Iran said it fired dozens of bomb-carrying drones.

Slow-moving Shahed-136 drones have been seen in the skies over Iran. However, those are more easily shot down.

Israel has missile defense systems capable of targeting ballistic missiles. However, in a massive attack involving multiple drones and missiles like the campaign launched late Saturday by Iran, the likelihood of a strike making it through is higher.

ISRAELI ARMY SAYS IT IS DETERMINED TO DEFEND THE COUNTRY

The Israel Defense Forces says that it is prepared to defend itself against a massive drone attack launched by Iran.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the army's spokesperson, said the country is closely monitoring the drones that are headed to Israel.

“Our defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness,” he said. “Together with our partners, the Israel Defense Forces is operating at full-force to defend the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”

US PLEDGES UNWAVERING SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL AMID IRANIAN ATTACK

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Saturday that the United States "will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

The Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “and made clear that Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.”

National security adviser Jake Sullivan also spoke with his counterpart to reinforce Washington’s “ironclad commitment" to Israel's security.

ISRAEL CLOSES ITS AIRSPACE AS IT ANTICIPATES DRONE ATTACK

Israel says it has closed its airspace after Iran launched dozens of drones against it late Saturday.

Israeli aviation authorities said they were closing the country’s airspace to all flights as of 12:30 a.m. local time (5:30 p.m. EDT).

ATTACK REPRESENTS FIRST FULL-SCALE ASSAULT ON ISRAEL BY IRAN

The attack late Saturday marked the first time Iran had ever launched a full-scale military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran has a vast arsenal of drones and missiles. Tehran’s choice of the Shahed-136 drones both give Israel and its allies hours to shoot down the bomb-carrying drones. For the time being, it does not appear Iran has used any of its ballistic missiles in the attack, which would pose a greater risk to Israel.

The Associated Press