US Sees Threat to US Troops in Middle East, Risk of Escalation
US Sees Threat to US Troops in Middle East, Risk of Escalation

By Epoch Times Staff

The war that began on Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for both sides.

Here are the latest updates on the Israel–Hamas war:


US Sees Threat to US Troops in Middle East, Risk of Escalation

The United States sees the prospect of a significant escalation in attacks on its troops in the Middle East and of Iran seeking to widen the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group, the top U.S. diplomat and defense officials said on Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the United States did not want to see the conflict spread and that recent U.S. deployments to the region were designed to prevent this.

“This is not what we want, not what we’re looking for. We don’t want escalation,” Mr. Blinken told NBC News on Sunday. “We don’t want to see our forces or our personnel come under fire. But if that happens, we’re ready for it.”

Mr. Blinken told NBC News that after the release of two U.S. citizens on Friday the United States hoped for more hostages to be freed by the Palestinian terrorist group, which attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and killed about 1,400 people.

Israel has since retaliated with deadly air strikes on Gaza, a 25 kilometer-long enclave home to 2.3 million people that has been ruled since 2006 by Hamas. Israel’s air strikes have killed over 4,700 people, Palestinian officials say.

“We’re concerned about potential escalation. In fact, what we’re seeing … is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region,” Mr. Austin told ABC’s “This Week” program. “If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict … our advice is: don’t.”

The United States has sent significant naval power to the Middle East in recent weeks, including two aircraft carriers, their support ships, and about 2,000 Marines.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said it will send a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and additional Patriot air defense missile system battalions to the region in response to recent attacks.


US Advises Citizens Not to Travel to Iraq After Recent Attacks on US Personnel

The U.S. State Department said on Sunday U.S. citizens should not travel to Iraq after recent attacks on American troops and personnel in the region.

The travel advisory says, “Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.”

There has been a spike in attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since the conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza broke out. Last week, a U.S. warship shot down more than a dozen drones and four cruise missiles fired by Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen.

The advisory followed the ordered departure of eligible family members and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Consulate General Erbil “due to increased security threats against U.S. personnel and interests,” the State Department said in a statement.

The statement added that anti-U.S. militias “threaten U.S. citizens and international companies” throughout Iraq.


US Senators Visit Israel; Graham Claims Iran behind Hamas Attack

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday accused Iran of involvement in the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught that triggered a Gaza counter-offensive by Israel, and warned that any escalation of the war could exact a cost from Tehran.

“We’re here today to give Israel what they need to do the job of destroying the modern day version of Nazis. Hamas,” he said. “We’re here today to tell Iran we’re watching you. If this war grows, it’s coming to your backyard. There won’t be two fronts, there’ll be three.”

The Republican was speaking in Tel Aviv, alongside a bipartisan group of senators, whom offered support to Israel in their addresses.

Iran has said it was not involved in one of the bloodiest attacks in Israel’s history when Hamas killed 1,400 Israelis and abducted dozens more.

“The idea that this happened without Iranian involvement is laughable,” Mr. Graham said, adding that “93% of the budget over decades, the training, the equipment, all coming from the Ayatollah. I come here to let Israel know that America will be with you. I come here to let the Arab world know ‘let’s make peace if we can.’ Destroying Hamas is non-negotiable. How we do it, Let’s talk. “


UN Says No 2nd Convoy of Aid Trucks Entered Gaza, Despite Report

Egypt’s state-run media reported that 17 aid trucks were crossing into Gaza on Sunday, but the United Nations said no trucks had crossed.

“Until now, there is no convoy,” said Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

On Saturday, 20 trucks entered in the first shipment into the territory since Israel began its retaliation against a Hamas attack two weeks ago.

AP journalists saw seven fuel trucks head into Gaza, but Touma and the Israeli military said those trucks were taking fuel that had been stored on the Gaza side of the crossing deeper into the territory, and that no fuel had entered from Egypt.


Israeli Military Says It Mistakenly Hit Egyptian Position near Gaza border

Israeli Military said on Sunday that one of its tanks accidentally hit an Egyptian position near the border with the Gaza Strip.

“The incident is being investigated and the details are under review. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] expresses sorrow regarding the incident,” it said in a statement, giving no further details.


Netanyahu Warns Hezbollah to Stay Out of War

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited troops stationed near the border with Lebanon, where the Israeli army and Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists also have traded fire during the Hamas–Israel war.

A top representative with Iran Hezbollah vowed Saturday that Israel would pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his terrorist group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

Speaking to troops in the north on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu said Israel would react more fiercely than it did during its short 2006 war with Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

“If Hezbollah decides to enter the war, it will miss the Second Lebanon War. It will make the mistake of its life. We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state are devastating,” the Israeli leader said.


US Sends More Air Defense Systems to Middle East, Orders More Troops to Prepare

The Pentagon announced on Saturday that the United States will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and additional Patriot missile system battalions to the Middle East following recent attacks on U.S. troops.

In recent weeks, the United States has also sent substantial naval resources to the region, including two aircraft carriers, support ships, and around 2,000 Marines.

With rising regional tensions amid the Israel–Hamas war, the United States is on high alert for potential actions by Iran-backed groups.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the moves aim to strengthen the U.S. defense posture in the region and increase protection for U.S. forces, as well as assist in Israel’s defense. He added that he was placing additional troops on prepare-to-deploy orders, but did not say how many.

The deployments come two years after Biden’s administration withdrew air defense systems from the Middle East, citing a reduction in tensions with Iran.


US Pushes UN to Back Israel’s Self-defense, Demand Iran Stop Arms to Hamas

The United States proposed on Saturday a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that says Israel has a right to defend itself and demands Iran stop exporting arms to “militias and terrorist groups threatening peace and security across the region.”

The draft text calls for the protection of civilians—including those who are trying to get to safety—notes that states must comply with international law when responding to “terrorist attacks,” and urges the “continuous, sufficient, and unhindered” delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip.

It was not immediately clear if or when the United States planned to put the draft resolution to a vote. To pass, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France, or Britain.


Israel Strikes Underground Compound at West Bank Mosque: IDF

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reported that a military aircraft launched a strike on the Al-Ansar mosque in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank early Sunday.

The mosque contained “a terror compound belonging to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror operatives that were responsible for several terror attacks over the last months, and were organizing an additional imminent terror attack,” the IDF said on Telegram.

“Recent IDF intel revealed that the Mosque was used as a command center to plan and execute terrorist attacks against civilians,” it said on X, formerly Twitter.

The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed that one Palestinian was killed during the strike.


Previous Day’s Notable News

Israel Says It Will Increase Attacks on Gaza: Israel plans to step up its attacks on the Gaza Strip starting Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas. Read more here.

Fighting Intensifies Along Israel’s Border With Lebanon: Israeli forces and Hezbollah terrorists exchanged fire Saturday in several areas along the Lebanon-Israel border. An Israeli reserve soldier with dual American citizenship was killed Thursday by an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon, the IDF said.

First Aid Trucks Cross Into Gaza From Egypt: Trucks with humanitarian aid that have been stranded in Egypt entered the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday after days of diplomatic wrangling over conditions for delivering the relief.

Hamas Has Fired More Than 500 Faulty Rockets That Hit Gaza, Israeli Military Says: The IDF said that since the start of the war on Oct. 7, it has “identified about 550 failed launches fired by Hamas that landed inside the Gaza Strip.” Read more here.

Israel Tells Citizens Not to Travel to Egypt or Jordan: The Israeli government has increased its travel alert for Egypt and Jordan, telling its citizens not to travel there and that those already there should leave immediately.

Biden Comments on Why Hamas Attacked Israel: President Joe Biden said Friday he believes Hamas was motivated to attack Israel in part by a desire to stop that country from normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia.



More than 1,400 people have been killed and 4,450 have been injured in Israel. Most of the deaths are civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Hamas captured at least 210 individuals, including children, taking them into Gaza.

Separately, on Oct. 10, the IDF reported that they killed approximately 1,500 Hamas terrorists since the start of the war.

The Gaza Health Ministry, backed by Hamas, has claimed that more 4,000 civilians have been killed and more than 12,500 have been injured in Gaza. In past conflicts, some Palestinian deaths in Gaza were attributed to Hamas rockets that fell short.


Summary of Events

After the unprecedented attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded on Oct. 13 by urging civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate, anticipating intensified military actions.

This came after around 1,400 Israelis were killed in the initial attack, prompting Israel to launch “Operation Swords of Iron” aimed at neutralizing Hamas. Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 8 and later relaxed its gun license regulations, to enable more civilians to arm themselves. By Oct. 8, Israel had already started its evacuation campaign through mass text messages.

Hamas, an Iran-backed Islamist terrorist group, took control of Gaza in 2007 after clashing with Fatah, a rival Palestinian faction. While Fatah nowadays leans towards peaceful negotiations for a two-state resolution, Hamas denies Israel’s right to exist and resorts to armed violence.

Hamas claimed to hold over 200 Israeli hostages and on Oct. 9 threatened to kill the hostages if Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza civilians “without warning.”

The IDF noted on Oct. 10 that Hamas intentionally locates its bases near civilian buildings like hospitals and schools, thus turning the buildings into valid military targets. It blames Hamas for intentionally doing this to maximize international condemnation of any Israeli attempts to fight back against the terrorists.

Israel on Oct. 9 cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity, and medicine into Gaza and emphasized that the blockade would remain until all the hostages were released.

By Oct. 11, Israel had established an emergency government and activated around 360,000 army reservists who have gathered along Israel’s border with Gaza.

The Israeli military also disclosed plans to target Hamas’s sprawling tunnel network beneath Gaza City, which the terrorists use and is shielded by civilian structures above. Meanwhile, Hamas vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and told Gazan residents to refrain from evacuating the area.

The United States began charter flights on Oct. 13 and boat evacuations on Oct. 17 to evacuate Americans out of Israel. The White House reported on Oct. 17 that 31 Americans had died, and 13 were missing since the war began.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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