Iran warns of ‘preemptive’ action against Israel amid Gaza war

Tehran has warned that a ground offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip would be met with a response from other fronts.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian [File: Anwar Amro/AFP]

Iran has warned of a possible “preemptive” action against Israel “in the coming hours”, as Israel prepares for a ground offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The Iran-backed, Lebanese group Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire across the Lebanese-Israeli frontier for days, further raising tensions as Israel bombards the Gaza Strip to the south following an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian armed group Hamas inside Israel last week.

“All possible options and scenarios are there for Hezbollah … Naturally, resistance leaders will not allow the Zionist regime to take any action in Gaza, and when it feels reassured about Gaza, move on to other resistance areas in the region,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a live broadcast to state TV late on Monday, as he referred to his meeting with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah the previous day.

“Therefore, any preemptive measure is imaginable in the coming hours.”

Amirabdollahian also said “the resistance leaders” will not allow Israel “to do whatever it wants in Gaza”.

“If we don’t defend Gaza today, tomorrow we have to defend against these [phosphorus] bombs in the children’s hospital of our own country,” he added, referring to allegations by human rights groups that Israel has been using phosphorus bombs in its aerial bombardment of Gaza. Israel has denied the allegation.

Reporting from southern Lebanon, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said Amirabdollahian was seen “as the strongest yet”.

“Hezbollah has been engaged with Israel along the border for more than a week now. But that cross-border exchange of fire has been largely limited in scope and confined to the border areas and military targets,” she said, adding, however, that tensions were rising.

“People are worrying and bracing for the possibility of this conflict, which is now confined to the south of the country, to spread elsewhere.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, Amirabdollahian had also warned Israel of regional escalation if its forces entered Gaza for a ground offensive.

“If the measures aimed at immediately stopping the Israeli attacks that are killing children in the Gaza Strip end in a deadlock, it is highly probable that many other fronts will be opened. This option is not ruled out and this is becoming increasingly more probable,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

Israel declared war on Hamas, the group running the Gaza Strip, after waves of its fighters broke through Gaza’s heavily militarised border with Israel on October 7 and killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel has responded by pummelling the Gaza Strip with non-stop air and artillery attacks that have flattened neighbourhoods and killed at least 2,750 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian officials.

Iran celebrated the Hamas assault but insisted it was not involved.

Monday’s remarks come as Israel prepares for a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, where fears for Palestinians trapped in the heavily bombarded enclave have grown since Israel launched its aerial campaign.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies