Iran Warns Israel to Halt Gaza Attacks Amid Hezbollah Threat, Fearing Middle East Conflict
Iran's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, issued a stern warning to Israel, urging the cessation of attacks on Gaza, fearing the potential expansion of the conflict throughout the Middle East, particularly if Hezbollah becomes involved. Amirabdollahian's statements, made in Beirut, emphasized that Lebanon's Hezbollah group had contemplated various war scenarios, and Israel should immediately halt its offensive in Gaza.
Israel views Hezbollah as its most immediate and significant threat, estimating the group possesses approximately 150,000 rockets and missiles, some of which are precision-guided and capable of striking anywhere in Israel. Hezbollah, bolstered by thousands of battle-hardened fighters from their participation in Syria's protracted conflict, also boasts an array of military drones.
Tensions along the Lebanese-Israeli border escalated following a recent attack by the militant Palestinian group Hamas, resulting in significant casualties among Israeli civilians and soldiers. The Israeli military confirmed a drone strike on its border with Lebanon that targeted an infiltrating "cell," while Hezbollah reported firing rockets at four Israeli positions along the border.
Amirabdollahian revealed his meeting with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, during which Nasrallah briefed him on the group's current situation in Lebanon. Amirabdollahian emphasized the potentially catastrophic consequences of any action taken by Hezbollah, stating that it would create a seismic impact within Israel. He issued a warning to those involved in the conflict, labeling them "war criminals" and urging them to halt their actions against Gaza before it becomes too late.
In response to the evolving situation, U.S. President Joe Biden cautioned other actors in the Middle East against joining the conflict, dispatching American warships to the region and pledging unwavering support for Israel.
Amirabdollahian announced his intention to reach out to United Nations officials in the Middle East, highlighting the opportunity to pursue an initiative to end the ongoing war. However, he expressed concerns that time was running out to avert a larger crisis, hinting at the potential for further escalation.
The specter of a new front in Lebanon rekindles memories of a bitter month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, which ultimately concluded in a stalemate and a tense, ongoing détente between the two adversaries.