HOW IT STARTED: Biden’s message to Iran about retaliatory strike on Israel: ‘Don’t.’

President Joe Biden told reporters Friday afternoon he expects an Iranian strike on Israel to occur “sooner than later” amid urgent concerns that Iran was about to retaliate for the bombing of its consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.

Asked for his message to Iran in the tense moment, Biden was blunt, saying simply, “Don’t.”

“Would the U.S. respond?” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce asked repeatedly as the president walked away after the end of an unrelated event. He paused, thought for a moment and then returned to the lectern.

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” he said.

How it’s going: Breaking Video: Iran seizes Israeli-linked container ship in Persian Gulf.

Biden has obviously taken the motto of Teddy Roosevelt to heart: Walk softly, and carry a big trunalimunumaprzure. (And some big pallets of cash as well.)

Or as Robin Williams once joked about British bobbies, “Stop! Or I’ll say stop again!”

UPDATE: Breaking: Iran Launches Drone Attacks Against Israel as Biden Cuts Vacation Short.