Asia calls for an immediate de-escalation after Iran’s retaliatory strikes against Israel

Several Asian countries expressed condemnation and called for "restraint" after Iran’s drone and missile strikes against Israel last April 13.

Linda Yulisman

Linda Yulisman

The Straits Times


Drones or missiles vying for targets at undisclosed locations in northern Israel on April 14. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/THE STRAITS TIMES

April 15, 2024

JAKARTA – China and Indonesia on April 14 expressed deep concern about escalating tensions in the Middle East, while Japan and Australia condemned Iran’s retaliatory drone and missile strikes against Israel.

India said it was “seriously concerned” that the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran threatens the peace and security in the region and called for an immediate de-escalation.

Iran late on April 13 attacked Israel in response to an April 1 air strike on an Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus that killed 12, including two senior generals in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack.

China’s foreign ministry called relevant parties to “remain calm and exercise restraint” to avert further rising tensions.

“China calls on the international community, especially influential countries, to play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability,” a spokesperson said, adding that the latest round of tensions is “a spillover from the Gaza conflict”, and that measures to end it immediately should be “a top priority”.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry also made a similar call for all parties “to exercise restraint”.

It added: “Indonesia urges the UN Security Council to act immediately to de-escalate tensions and continue working toward lasting peace in the Middle East, including by ending the illegal occupation of Palestine and various violations of international law by Israel.”

Meanwhile, Japan said it “strongly condemns this escalation”, with Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa warning it would further exacerbate the situation in the Middle East. She stressed that peace and stability in the Middle East is “extremely important” to Japan, and it has been “strongly urging parties involved to calm the situation”.

“We reiterate our determination to continue all necessary diplomatic efforts to prevent the situation from worsening further,” she said.

Likewise, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said: “We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy. It is vital that security and stability are maintained in the region.”

Following an attack on Israel by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Oct 7, 2023 that left 1,200 dead, Israel’s retaliatory offensive on Gaza has killed at least 33,634, mostly women and children.

After more than six months, the tensions have spread to fronts with Lebanon and Syria, and Reuters has reported long-range fire from Yemen and Iraq launched at Israeli targets.

Iran’s first direct attack on Israeli territory on April 13 has stoked fears about a widening conflict in the region.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the escalation was “a grave threat to the security of Israel and the entire region”, and said Tehran had ignored the call by Australia and many other countries not to proceed with the “reckless attacks”.

“Australia will continue to work with the international community to increase pressure on Iran to cease its destabilising actions and to prevent the conflict from spreading,” he added.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on April 14 that it had given 72 hours’ notice to its neighbours about its retaliatory strikes on Israel, and that Iran had told the US that its attacks would be “limited” and for self-defence.

Numerous countries warned their citizens on April 12 and 13 to avoid travel to Iran and Israel, and for their citizens already in both countries to exercise caution.

The Thai government said on April 13 that it had prepared measures to help Thai nationals in Israel in anticipation of Iran’s threat to attack Israel.

Likewise, the Malaysian government said on April 13 that, if necessary, it would evacuate Malaysians from any places at risk of a war breaking out.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry on April 14 said no Indonesian citizens in Israel were affected by Iran’s attack, based on information from the Indonesian embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman, which collected responses from Indonesians living in Israel.

According to the embassy, 115 Indonesians live in Israel, most of them in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Arava. As many as 376 Indonesians live in Iran, and the majority of them are students based in the city of Qom.

The Indian mission in Tel Aviv on April 14 advised Indians in Israel to stay calm and adhere to safety protocols.

  • Additional reporting by Walter Sim in Tokyo and Nirmala Ganapathy in New Delhi
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