Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Friday that expansion of the Israel-Hamas war has become “inevitable”, amid widespread concern in the region and beyond that the conflict could spread.
On October 7, Hamas gunmen stormed across the heavily militarised border from the Gaza Strip to kill more than 1,400 people in southern Israel. Most were civilians. The militants also seized around 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel retaliated with an aerial bombing and ground offensive that the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says has killed more than 10,800 people, two-thirds of them women and children.
“Due to the increasing intensity of the war against the civilian residents of Gaza, the expansion of the scope of the war has now become inevitable”, Amir-Abdollahian said to his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in a phone call.
His comments were cited on the ministry’s website.
The Islamic republic, which supports Hamas financially and militarily, has hailed the militant group’s attack on Israel as a “success” but denied any involvement.
President Ebrahim Raisi has said Iran sees it as “its duty to support the resistance groups” but insisted that they act independently.
Tehran also backs the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, whose militants and allies have skirmished with Israeli forces along their border in deadly clashes since the Israel-Hamas war began.
A series of rocket and drone attacks have also targeted military bases hosting US and other forces in an anti-jihadist coalition in Iraq and Syria.
A group known as “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” has claimed most of those attacks, which Washington has linked back to Iran.
The United States has sent two aircraft carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean as part of efforts it says aim to deter a wider war.
Raisi will join Arab leaders in the Saudi capital on Saturday for summits expected to underscore demands that Israel’s attacks on Gaza end before the violence draws in other countries.
Iran does not recognise Israel and has made support for the Palestinian cause a centrepiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.