The rhetorical fencing between the United States and Iran regarding the war between Israel and Hamas, which generates fears of a regional escalation with military dimensions of the conflict, gained new chapters this Tuesday (17).
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated that Israel is committing “a genocide” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and again insinuated that its allies, such as Hamas, which provoked the current war with its terrorist attack on the 7th , must act against Tel Aviv.
“No one can confront Muslims and resistance forces if the Zionist regime’s crimes against Palestinians continue,” he told students in Tehran. “The bombing of Gaza must stop immediately. We must respond, we must react to what is happening.”
Israel’s retaliation for the attack has killed 2,800 Palestinians. Khamenei, whose country has not recognized the Jewish state since the theocracy was implemented in 1979, naturally made no mention of the Hamas attack, which left 1,300 dead. The country denies having participated in the action.
The day before, President Ebrahim Raisi had spoken of an imminent action by what he calls resistance forces, something repeated this Tuesday by the deputy head of the feared Revolutionary Guard, but so far there has been nothing more than the exchange of fire on the Lebanese border with Hizbullah – another group funded by Tehran.
There, the situation remains tense. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) killed four militants who invaded its territory this Tuesday, but did not say at what point or what their affiliation was. In addition to Hizbullah, which dominates southern Lebanon, Hamas itself has a presence in the region.
Throughout the day, there were at least two incidents in which Hizbullah fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli army positions, which they responded with artillery. According to Lebanese press reports, at least four people died in the village of Alma Al-Shaab.
Israel ordered the evacuation of civilians in an area 2 km from the border with Lebanon. The opening of a second front with Hamas allies is one of Israel’s greatest military fears, given that Hizbullah, with which it fought a war in 2006, is a more capable force than the Palestinian one.
A country in perennial crisis and with economic difficulties exacerbated since the explosion that devastated the port of Beirut three years ago, Lebanon is holding its breath in the current war: Hizbullah has great military and political power. This Tuesday, the state airline MEA sent 5 of its 24 planes to Turkey, aiming to protect them from a possible spread of the conflict.
Although in principle it is of no interest to anyone other than Hamas, the risk of a regional conflagration is present — it was openly mentioned by presidents Joe Biden and Raisi, for example.
This Wednesday (18), the American will make an unprecedented visit to Israel as a war zone. He will reaffirm his support for the Jewish State in the crisis, something already demonstrated in practice by sending two groups of aircraft carriers to the waters close to the country — one is already there, the other should arrive in three weeks.
Obviously, it is a risky trip in every way. Afterwards, he will meet with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian National Authority in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on the same day to discuss the war and the fear of escalation.
The Authority, which governs the West Bank and has a peace agreement with Tel Aviv, is a rival of Hamas and has been politically weakened in recent years by Binyamin Netanyahu’s government. The prime minister’s tactic was to keep Israel in relative security while negotiating peace with more Arab neighbors, but in the process Gaza’s radicals grew stronger.
With the Egyptians, Biden should also discuss the issue of reopening the Rafah crossing, in the south of Gaza, where refugees with dual nationality or foreigners who were in the region wait to flee to the Arab country. There are 26 people under the care of Itamaraty among them.