As Israel prepares for a ground offensive in Gaza, Iran warned that it might intervene if fighting continues. On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the U.S. would see “heavy losses” if it were to get involved in the conflict.
Amir-Abdollahian further cautioned Israel with a deadline to end its military actions toward Gaza.
“We announced to the Zionist regime, through its supporters, that if it does not stop its crimes in Gaza, tomorrow will be too late,” Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that his country was at war. Israel has since cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity, and medicine into Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces called up 360,000 army reservists as it prepares for a likely ground offensive into the territory, which has an estimated population of 2.3 million.
The Islamic Republic has been a strong supporter of Hamas, providing the group with arms and funding. However, Tehran has denied direct involvement with the attack on Israel.
Warnings From Both Sides
The United States responded to the attack by reaffirming its commitment to Israel. Washington deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups to the region.
Immediately following the Hamas raid, United States Central Command (CENTCOM) sent the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the newest and largest nuclear-powered supercarrier in the U.S. fleet, along with its strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean. The flotilla arrived off the coast of Israel on Tuesday.
CENTCOM further announced that steps had been taken to augment U.S. Air Force F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region, while the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG has also been deployed there.
Iran’s Amir-Abdollahian has warned against direct U.S. action.
“Iran cannot just watch this situation as a bystander. If the scope of the war expands, heavy losses will be inflicted on the United States,” he added.
Iran is hardly alone in rattling sabers.
On Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Tehran against escalating the conflict, including any efforts to encourage attacks from Hezbollah in the north.
“Here’s my message. If Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran, launches a massive attack on Israel, I would consider that a threat to the state of Israel, existential in nature,” Graham said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Such a situation could require the United States to act, Graham added.
“I will introduce a resolution in the United States Senate to allow military action by the United States in conjunction with Israel to knock Iran out of the oil business. Iran, if you escalate this war, we’re coming for you.”
Hezbollah Remains the Wild Card
Iran-backed Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, has exchanged fire with Israeli forces in recent days, and the IDF has claimed Tehran ordered the Lebanon-based group to conduct attacks against Israel. Both Hamas and Hezbollah have vowed to destroy Israel.
Graham further suggested that force may be required to end funding to the two terrorist groups.
“I am poised to use military force to destroy the source of funding for Hamas and Hezbollah. The idea that Iran read about this operation in the paper, or on television is laughable. Ninety-three percent of Hezbollah and Hamas’ money comes from Iran,” Graham said. “They’re the source of the problem. They’re the great evil. So, if Hezbollah escalates against Israel, it will be because Iran told them to. Then Iran, you’re in the crosshairs of the United States and Israel.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.