The American side has confirmed the downing of a number of Iranian drones – reports say more than 100 – that were headed for Israel.

British aircraft were also reported to have shot down Iranian drones over Syrian territory.

Sounds of explosions in Jerusalem

Explosions were heard in Jerusalem, according to witnesses, which Israeli media attributed to aerial interceptions.

Minutes before, sirens had sounded in the city.

200 drones

Earlier, it became known that with the launch of at least 200 drones in three waves, Iran’s direct attack on Israel began, in response to the bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, a few 24 hours ago. Iran called the operation against Israel “Operation True Promise”.

Information confirmed by both Israel and the US, refers to a mass attack by Iran with unmanned aerial vehicles, which began shortly before 11 pm Greek time. According to estimates, Iranian drones take hours to reach their targets on Israeli soil.

According to information reported by the Reuters agency, the Iranian drones will arrive at around 2 am, while Israel’s airspace will be closed from 12:30 pm.

As reported by international media, an attack on Iran has been launched simultaneously by the Houthis of Yemen and from Lebanon, by Hezbollah units, which are being hit by the Israeli army.

Israeli media, citing sources from the government, are reporting that Iran also launched ballistic missiles towards Israel.

American and allied forces have erected a protective umbrella around Israel, shooting down several of the Iranian drones, international media reports.

As announced by the Israeli government, a meeting of the Supreme Council will be held at 6 in the morning, in order to decide the way to react.

Earlier, the White House announced that US President Joe Biden was rushing back to Washington on Saturday afternoon, interrupting his weekend in Delaware, to consult with his Security Council team on events in the Middle East.

Tel Aviv, for its part, states that it is ready to repel any attack, adding that the counterattack will be immediate and crucial. The preparatory work has already been done with the mobilization of air defense personnel and activation of the anti-missile systems to the maximum extent.

In its statement, the Israeli government states that Israelis should follow orders that may be issued by the Israeli military’s Homefront Command, which detects incoming rockets or air threats against the country to notify the population and rush to shelters.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari announced the cancellation of all school trips and events for the next few days and said the armed forces were on high alert.

Announcing the measures on television, Haggari said dozens of fighter jets were in the air as part of a state of alert.

Israel calls for sanctions against Iran

“Tehran is committing hostage-taking and must be sanctioned for it,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said today, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a cargo ship bound for Israel near the Strait of Hormuz.

“Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime is a criminal regime that supports the crimes of Hamas and is now conducting a piracy operation in violation of international law,” Katz said. “I call on the European Union and the free world to immediately declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization and impose sanctions on Iran now¬.

Iran will “suffer the consequences of its choice to further aggravate the situation”, Israel’s military warned today as the country is on high alert in the face of threats of retaliation from Tehran, an ally of Palestinian Hamas.

“We have increased our readiness to protect Israel from a new Iranian attack. We are also ready to respond,” Israeli military spokesman Daniel Haggari added in a statement released after Iran said it had seized a ship “linked” to Israel in the Gulf.

Iran moves missiles and drones

Earlier, CNN reported that the US had observed Iran moving internal military assets, including drones and cruise missiles, signaling that it was preparing to attack Israeli targets, according to two people familiar with US intelligence. One of them said the US had observed Iran preparing up to 100 cruise missiles.

It was not clear whether Iran was preparing to strike from its soil as part of a preemptive strike or to try to prevent Israel or the US from launching a possible counterstrike on its soil.