In an interview with the Financial Times, Ali Barakeh, a senior member of Hamas’ political leadership based in Lebanon, expressed surprise at America’s response to the recent violence in Gaza. Barakeh stated that while they expected a strong Israeli response, they did not anticipate the United States entering the battle. He noted that the deployment of thousands of troops and two aircraft carriers to the region was unexpected.
The United States has made significant shows of force in the Middle East since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7. Two aircraft carrier strike groups were deployed to the Mediterranean, along with an amphibious assault ship carrying 2,000 sailors and marines. US officials have stated that these moves were intended to deter outside actors from getting involved in the Gaza war.
On Thursday, the Pentagon announced that it had carried out airstrikes on two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups. The mission was described as self-defense in response to rocket attacks on US troops. While this highlighted escalating US military action in the region, officials emphasized that it was separate from the hostilities with Hamas.
In response to Hamas’ attack earlier this month, the Israel Defense Forces have launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, resulting in a reported death toll of 1,400, according to Israeli officials. Since then, more than 7,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in IDF bombings. Israel is now preparing for a significant ground operation to eliminate Hamas.
Barakeh revealed that Hamas has at least 40,000 fighters, with most of them based in extensive tunnel networks beneath Gaza. He stated that the group has been prepared for a ground offensive and that the underground complex is stocked with months of supplies.
The situation in the Middle East remains tense as Israel prepares for a ground assault and the United States maintains a strong military presence in the region. The surprise involvement of the US has raised concerns about the potential escalation of the conflict. With both sides entrenched in their positions, the international community is closely monitoring the situation and calling for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further loss of life and destruction. The focus now is on finding a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and bringing an end to the violence.