'Hands on trigger,' Iran warns Israel against launching ground offensive in Gaza

A view shows the ruins of a Palestinian house hit by Israeli strikes at al-Shati (Beach) refugee camp, in Gaza City, October 12, 2023. Photo: Reuters/Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa

Iran's foreign minister has called on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, warning that the war might expand to other parts of the Middle East if Hezbollah joins the battle, and that would make Israel suffer a huge earthquake.

"If the Zionist aggressions do not stop, the hands of all parties in the region are on the trigger," Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, as quoted by news agency Reuters.

Hossein Amirabdollahian had earlier told reporters in Beirut that Lebanon's Hezbollah group has taken all the scenarios of a war into consideration and Israel should stop its attacks on Gaza as soon as possible.

Amirabdollahian said he met Friday Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who briefed him on the group's conditions in Lebanon. I know about the scenarios that Hezbollah has put in place, Amirabdollahian said. Any step the resistance (Hezbollah) will take will cause a huge earthquake in the Zionist entity.

Amirabdollahian added: I want to warn the war criminals and those who support this entity before it's too late to stop the crimes against civilians in Gaza, because it might be too late in few hours.

The Iranian foreign minister had said he would be contacting UN officials in the Middle East because there is still an opportunity to work on an initiative (to end the war) but it might be too late tomorrow.

Israel considers Hezbollah its most serious immediate threat, estimating it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles, including precision-guided missiles that can hit anywhere in Israel. The group, which has thousands of battle-hardened fighters who participated in Syria's 12-year conflict, also has different types of military drones.

Hezbollah fighters have been on full alert along Lebanon's borders with Israel following last Saturday's attack by the militant Palestinian group Hamas that left hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers dead.

More than a million people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israel invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas' leadership after its deadly incursion. Aid groups warn an Israeli ground offensive could hasten a humanitarian crisis. Israeli forces, supported by US warships, positioned themselves along Gaza's border and drilled for what Israel said would be a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group. A week of blistering airstrikes have demolished neighbourhoods but failed to stop militant rocket fire into Israel. 

The war that began on October 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides, with more than 4,000 dead. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 wounded. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 155 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel.
(With inputs from AP, Reuters.)

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