Middle East on edge as Israel and Iran trade threats

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 war in Gaza.

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

The United States, meanwhile, 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.

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".

U.S. President Joe Biden has stressed that "the United States is committed to Israel's security" but wants to prevent the conflict from spreading.

Washington, Israel's top ally and arms supplier, has made clear it will not join Israel in any retaliatory attack on their common adversary Iran, according to a senior U.S. official.

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