Not a single drone or cruise missile sent from Iran made it to Israel last night. The combined air forces of Israel, the UK, US, Saudi and Jordan were effective in stopping every one. Only some faster-moving ballistic missiles hit Israel, inflicting light damage on the Nabatim air base. In total, the IDF says 99 per cent of about 300 drones and missiles were destroyed.

No more attacks seem likely in retaliation for Israel’s 1 April strike. ‘The US is not interested in war with Iran,’ said Lloyd Austin, the US Defence Secretary. It seems that Iran is also not interested in war beyond last night’s almost perfunctory retaliation, it will not escalate. Israel has already made its response, hitting Hezbollah’s Radwan Force in Lebanon last night, and seems content to leave it there. El Al has resumed its domestic flight schedule. Airspace has reopened in Iraq, flights are landing again in Beirut. Rightly or wrongly, other countries in the region seem to think it’s all over. At least for now.

The fact that none of the drones or cruise missiles hit target does not seem to have dampened the mood

The latest estimate is that Iran dispatched 185 drones (with a nine-hour flight time) and 36 cruise missiles (two hours): all were destroyed. Given that 120 ballistic missiles were also launched – their 12-minute flight time makes them harder to intercept – the lack of damage is striking. There has been light damage to one air base and the only reported casualty is a 7-year-old Arab girl in the Bedoin diaspora feared to have been hit with shrapnel from the interception of a missile.

‘More than thirty cruise missiles were fired,’ said an IDF spokesman. ‘Zero penetrated the territory of Israel. More than 120 ballistic missiles were launched, a number penetrated and fell at the air force base in Nevatim, causing only minor damage. Iran thought that it would be able to paralyse the base and thereby damage the air capabilities, but failed.’

It adds up to a striking display not just of Israel’s preparedness but the strength of its alliance. The RAF dispatched aircraft from Akrotiri in Cyprus: they were not technically necessary but all countries wanted to make a show of a joint force – and one that includes the Saudis as well as the Americans. Even France contributed, by patrolling airspace. Iran’s allies were unimpressed. China said it was ‘deeply concerned about the current escalation’. All other players in the region have been expressing concern about escalation: only Hamas issued a statement of congratulation. Qatar called on ‘all parties to stop’. Jordan said it helped fend off the Iranian attack for its own security as it does not want escalation (it also condemned Israel’s campaign in Gaza).

Given that the world has waited for almost two weeks to see how, not whether, Iran would retaliate for the 1 April attack on its embassy by Israel (itself a response for Iran’s role in the 7 October attacks) last night was at the lighter end of expectations. Iran even sought to provide legal backing for its strikes in a letter to the UN, and its ambassador there said that it’s over, ‘unless Israel makes another mistake’.

If it was performative then there was political performance as well, with the Iranian parliament convening to chant ‘death to Israel’ (video here). The fact that none of the drones or cruise missiles hit their targets does not seem to have dampened the mood. Hossein Salami, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said last night marked a new strategy where it will respond to ‘any aggression directly from Iranian territory’ – so the triumph, in other words, is not that the direct attack caused damage but that it happened at all. And under the UN framework (hence the letter). But in Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington we hear the same message this morning: it’s now over.

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