Iran’s foreign minister warned Friday that Lebanese and Palestinian militants had their “finger on the trigger” in anticipation of an Israeli ground offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Iran’s clerical state backs Hamas, whose bloody assault inside Israel on October 7 triggered major retaliation, and has a close relationship with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that frequently fires into Israel.
“What I gathered from what I heard from them and the plans that they have — they have their finger on the trigger,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said of Lebanese and Palestinian militants he has met.
Speaking to US National Public Radio from the United Nations, where he was attending a General Assembly session on the crisis, Amir-Abdollahian said the militants’ actions would be “much more powerful and deeper than what you’ve witnessed.”
“Therefore I believe that if this situation continues and women and children and civilians are still killed in Gaza and the West Bank, anything will be possible,” he said.
Amir-Abdollahian insisted, however, that militants would decide on their own rather than at the behest of Iran.
“We don’t really want this conflict to spread out,” he said.
His remarks came after US President Joe Biden ordered air strikes on two sites in Syria said to be used by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
The Pentagon cast the strikes as measured retaliation after strikes by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria that left one US citizen contractor dead from a cardiac incident and 21 US military personnel with minor injuries.
On October 7, Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza Strip’s border, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking more than 220 hostages in the worst bloodshed in Israel’s history.
Israel has struck back with a relentless bombing campaign which Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says has killed 7,326 people, mostly civilians, among them 3,038 children.