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Iran strike on Israel ‘imminent’ – media

The promised Iranian retaliation for the Israeli attack on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus is likely in the next 24-48 hours, anonymous US officials told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

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Two generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force were killed in the Israeli airstrike on April 1, which for the first time targeted an internationally protected diplomatic mission.

There has been a widespread expectation that Iran would refrain from reprisal until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Speaking on Wednesday, as Muslims celebrated the feast of Eid-al-Fitr, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Israel “must and shall be punished” for what it did.

“Major missile or drone strikes” are now imminent, Bloomberg reported citing “people familiar with” the Israeli, US and allied intelligence reports. They will likely be carried out by either Iran directly, or its allies such as the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, the anonymous sources said.

The US is helping Israel with planning and sharing intelligence assessments, the sources said. West Jerusalem is reportedly waiting for the Iranian attack before it launches a ground offensive against the city of Rafah, in Gaza.

READ MORE: Israel ready to attack Iranian nuclear sites – media

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday that West Jerusalem would respond in kind if the attack on Israel comes from Iranian territory. Several media outlets reported on Tuesday that Israel has been preparing to target Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The US has publicly promised Israel support against an Iranian attack, including helping shoot down the incoming missiles. Washington has reportedly also floated the idea of taking part in any Israeli counter-strikes.

“We do not rule out launching joint retaliatory strikes with Israel if it is attacked by Iran or its agents,” an unnamed US official told Al Jazeera Arabic.

READ MORE: Date set for Rafah offensive – Netanyahu

Meanwhile, Lufthansa has announced that it was suspending service to and from Tehran “due to the current situation in the Middle East.” Flights might resume after April 11, the German national carrier said on Wednesday. Rumors that the airspace over Iran’s Khuzestan province – on the southwestern border with Iraq – has been closed could not be independently confirmed.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have canceled all leave and began spoofing GPS signals, in preparation for a possible Iranian reprisal. Rumors of the impending Iranian strike also drove up the price of oil on futures markets, with Brent crude trading above $90 a barrel.

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