Iran threatens: ‘No one can guarantee’ control of situation if Israel enters Gaza

Tehran condemns ‘barbaric attacks’ in Strip, says issue of ‘civilian prisoners’ in Gaza is a priority; US fears Iran could become ‘directly engaged,’ says White House

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Doha on October 14, 2023. (Qatar News Agency / AFP)
Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Doha on October 14, 2023. (Qatar News Agency / AFP)

Iran on Sunday warned that any Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip could escalate conflicts elsewhere in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha on Sunday, the eighth day of the war between Israel and Gaza.

“No one can guarantee control of the situation and the non-expansion of the conflicts,” he said, according to an Iranian foreign ministry statement. “Those who are interested in preventing the scope of war and crisis from expanding need to prevent the current barbaric attacks… against citizens and civilians in Gaza.”

Amir-Abdollahian also criticized the United States, which has given its unequivocal backing to Israel since the October 7 onslaught on southern Israel by Hamas terrorists.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing over 1,300 people and seizing 150-200 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what US President Joe Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Iran has long backed both Hamas in Gaza as well as the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which has been clashing with Israel along its northern border over the past week.

Both the US and Israel have repeatedly warned against any other actors attempting to join the war between Israel and Gaza or exploit the situation.

US President Joe Biden, center, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Vice President Kamala Harris, left, speaking October 10, 2023, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, about the war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas after its shock onslaught on Saturday. (AP/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden issued an explicit warning in a speech last week that was widely seen as aimed at Hezbollah and Iran: “Let me say again — to any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t.”

In Washington, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday said the United States feared an escalation of war, and the prospect of Iran becoming “directly engaged.”

Iran has repeatedly threatened Israel in recent days, and Amir-Abdollahian has been in Lebanon, Qatar, Syria and Iraq holding a series of meetings, including with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.

On Saturday, during his meeting with Haniyeh, Amir-Abdollahian 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.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, left, meets with Ismail Haniyeh, one of the Hamas leaders, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 14, 2023. (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

Amir-Abdollahian also met on Saturday in Beirut with UN special envoy Tor Wennesland — a meeting that was harshly criticized by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, who shared a photo of the pair meeting on X, writing: “Don’t forget to wash the blood of Israeli babies off your hands after that handshake.”

In response, a UN spokesman said that all of Wennesland’s meetings in recent days “have been to discuss diplomatic efforts to release hostages, secure humanitarian access and prevent a spillover of the conflict to the wider region. This includes his recent meetings in Lebanon.”

Sunday’s Iranian foreign ministry statement said Amir-Abdollahian had met high-ranking Hamas officials in Beirut and Doha who described “the issue of civilian prisoners as a priority” and would “take the necessary measures,” but provided no further details.

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