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Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


Israel is under assault on many fronts.

From Gaza by Hamas. From Lebanon by Hezbollah. From Yemen by Houthi militants. And from Syria from various groups.

All of these aggressors are directly connected to Iran.

And now, Israel's come under attack from Iran itself, after more than 300 drones and missiles were launched on Saturday in what Tehran said was a response to Israel's recent killing of three Iranian commanders and four officers in a Damascus diplomatic complex.

Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, 99% of Saturday's barrage was reportedly intercepted, and only one Israeli casualty was reported: a young Muslim girl of Bedouin descent, reflecting the fact that Arabs make up a sizable minority of the population of the Jewish state that Iran wants to eradicate.

The world was again reminded of the nature of the theocracy ruling, and ruining, Iran. Not only is the country directly threatening Israel and possibly plunging the region into a wider war, it supplies Russia with drones to kill Ukrainians as the authoritarian axis between Tehran, Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang challenges the Western-led international system.

Iran's malevolence calls for a multilateral response. From the West, yes, but also from Mideast regimes that are either formally diplomatically tied to Israel or tacitly aligned through shared concern over Iran's deeply destabilizing behavior.

One of those Mideast nations, Jordan, came directly to Israel's defense, and others, including Saudi Arabia, may have also played a role over the weekend. Additional defense was provided by Britain, France and especially the U.S. — directly and indirectly through a decades-old alliance that has provided extraordinarily capable defensive weapons that rendered Iran's attack ineffectual.

But it cannot be assumed that this prowess is infallible or the advantage is permanent. And it cannot be assumed that Iran's arsenal won't one day include nuclear weapons.

This isn't a threat that Israel — or the world — can ignore. In fact, Israel's government not only has the right, but the responsibility, to protect its citizens.

Yet accomplishing that is best done multilaterally and much more strategically and humanely than the ongoing operation in Gaza. That effort has not yet achieved Israel's aims, including freeing the remaining hostages, and has had a horrifyingly high civilian toll. This has understandably and justifiably strained Israel's relationships with allies, including, most consequentially, the U.S.

Contrary to the reckless rhetoric of some Republicans, however, President Joe Biden has not only not abandoned Israel, the U.S. commitment to Israel's defense, as he promised, is "ironclad."

Reacting to Israel's successful defense from Iran's attack, "Israelis understand very clearly this would never have happened had it not been for U.S. support and U.S. money and U.S. science and technology and weapons companies," Jonathan Conricus, a senior fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told an editorial writer and other reporters in a media briefing on Sunday.

Conricus, a former lieutenant colonel and spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, can speak authoritatively on the U.S. role in Israel's defense, and his words have added credence in a critique of Israel's approach in Gaza, including the need for more multilateralism. "The key point [regarding Iran] will be to build a coalition," Conricus said.

Biden is right to resist calls for an immediate military response by Israel — for that nation's sake and also for America's. As president and commander in chief, he must take extreme caution that the U.S. doesn't get pulled into yet another major Mideast war. According to senior administration officials who spoke to the New York Times, Biden advised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "think carefully and strategically" about escalating the conflict with Iran. Following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, Biden recommended that the prime minister not react in the same way the U.S. did after 9/11. Netanyahu may have heard but didn't necessarily heed that advice. That's led to increasing isolation of Israel worldwide, including with many in the U.S.

Iran is more than just Israel's problem, and the response should reflect that fact. But creating more daylight with Washington won't help Jerusalem in what had been a shadow war with Tehran. Israel should proceed prudently, and with partners, as it endeavors to protect its citizens.