Iran Saturday said it was still possible to prevent a regional spillover of Israel’s war with Islamist group Hamas but warned that time was quickly running out.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke from the Lebanese capital Beirut a week after hundreds of Hamas gunmen stormed from Gaza into Israel and killed at least 1,300 people, mostly civilians.
Israel has since been pounding Hamas targets in Gaza, where authorities say more than 2,200 people have been killed in the retaliatory strikes.
“There is still a political opportunity to prevent a widespread crisis in the region,” Amir-Abdollahian told a press conference in Beirut after stops in Baghdad and Damascus.
But “maybe, in the next few hours, it will be too late,” he said, warning that pro-Iran militants “have designed all the scenarios and are prepared, and their finger is on the trigger to shoot.”
Although Tehran has long backed Hamas — which rules Gaza — financially and militarily, Iran has denied involvement in the group’s attack on Israel.
During stops in Damascus and Baghdad in the last days, Amir-Abdollahian did not rule out the possibility of an escalation that could draw its regional allies into the Israeli-Hamas war.
Israel has traded fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Lebanon on a near-daily basis since Sunday, although the tit-for-tat attacks have remained limited.
On Monday, Hezbollah said three of its members were killed in Israeli strikes on south Lebanon after Palestinian militants tried to slip across the border.