Rehoboth Beach, Delaware —The United States anticipates that the war between Israel and Hamas It will escalate through the participation of groups linked to Iran, but in that case it is ready to respond if its forces are attacked, the country’s Secretaries of State and Defense agreed on Sunday.
“That’s not what we want, that’s not what we’re looking for. “We don’t want an escalation.”said the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “We do not want to see our forces or our personnel under fire. But if that happens, we are ready.”
Added Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin: “What we are seeing is the possibility of a significant escalation of attacks against our troops and against our people in the region.”
The United States has the right to defend itself “and we will not hesitate to take appropriate action”Austin said.
The statements come as Israel’s retaliation to the brutal attack carried out by the Hamas group on October 7 enters its third week.
Israeli planes struck targets in Gaza late Saturday and into Sunday, as well as two airports in Syria and a mosque in the West Bank allegedly used by militants, as the war threatens to engulf more Middle Eastern countries.
Israel has also exchanged fire with the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, and tensions are rising in the West Bank, where Israeli forces have been battling militants in refugee camps, carrying out two airstrikes in recent days.
The United States on Sunday ordered all non-essential staff at its embassy in Iraq to leave the country.
Blinken, who recently visited the region, spoke of “the likelihood of escalation” while warning that no one wants to see a second or third front in the war.
He said the United States anticipates “an escalation by groups linked to Iran against our forces, against our personnel”But he added, “we are taking steps to ensure that we can effectively defend our people and respond decisively if we have to.”
Blinken, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” highlighted that the United States has sent more forces to the region, including two aircraft carrier strike groups, “not to provoke, but to deter, to make it clear that if someone tries to do something, we are there.”
President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he has a simple message for Israel’s enemies who try to take advantage of the situation: “Don’t do it.”
Meanwhile, trucks full of food, water and other supplies continued entering the Gaza Strip on Sunday after a major border crossing with Egypt was reopened.
But Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Programme, said the situation in Gaza remains “catastrophic.” She asserted that more help is needed.
He said his organization was able to provide dinner to 200,000 people on Saturday. “but that is not enough. It’s a drop. “We need safe and sustainable access there, in that region, to be able to feed people.”
Four hundred trucks with supplies entered Gaza daily before the war, he said.
“This is a catastrophe and we simply have to get these trucks in”he asserted.
Biden, who was at his home on the Delaware coast, was briefed by his advisers on the latest developments, the White House said. Biden also discussed the situation in separate conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis.
Biden and Netanyahu spoke about “the need to avoid escalation in the region and work for lasting peace in the Middle East”said the White House. Israel has promised a ground invasion of Gaza to destroy Hamas.
The State Department ordered non-essential personnel at its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Irbil to leave Iraq. In an updated message to Americans in Iraq, the department said conditions make it impossible to conduct normal functions there.
Austin and McCain spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”