Israel has vowed to “destroy” Hamas after a devastating attack by the militants across the southern border on October 7 surprised Israel and killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

The Biden administration said Iran was complicit in the Hamas attack because Tehran has armed, trained and financed the group for decades.

On Thursday, a US Navy ship in the northern Red Sea shot down three cruise missiles and several drones fired by pro-Iranian Houthi forces from Yemen. The Pentagon said the missiles and drones may have been aimed at Israel.

A senior Israeli official said: “In my opinion, the Houthi missile attack would not have been carried out without Iran’s green light.”

On Friday, two rockets were fired at U.S. targets in Baghdad, which a defense official said was consistent with actions by pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.

At least two drones targeted al-Tanf, a US garrison in southern Syria, on Wednesday. The US military shot down one of them, but the other hit the base, causing minor injuries to a small number of US troops, according to the Pentagon.

The US is still investigating who is behind the drone flights, but initial indications suggest that Iranian-backed militias launched the drones. The pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria have launched numerous missile and drone attacks on US forces in recent years.

Despite its relatively modest conventional military might, Iran has long maintained armed proxies in the region to deter opponents, expand its political influence and make its enemies think twice before attacking Iran directly.

Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, told CNBC on Wednesday that it was unlikely that Iran would directly enter the war between Israel and Hamas. But she added that the risk of an accidental conflict breaking out was growing, particularly along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where Iran-backed Hezbollah forces have clashed with the Israeli military.

“The risk of misjudgment is very, very high. “The danger that one side or the other will misinterpret the actions beyond the northern border and escalate this is very real,” Flournoy said.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “We cannot rule out the possibility that Iran would choose to engage directly in some way.”

Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sullivan added: “We must prepare for all possible eventualities. That’s exactly what the president did.”

Dan De Luce

Courtney Kube

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