NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the press after the NATO Defense Ministers Council at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 12 October 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

NATO warns Iran, Hezbollah against taking advantage of the situation in Israel

Brussels/Tehran, Oct 12 (EFE).- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday warned nations and organizations “hostile” to Israel, among which he mentioned Iran and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, against taking advantage of the conflict between the Israeli state and the Islamist group Hamas.

“There is always a risk that nations and/or organizations hostile to Israel will try to take advantage. And that includes, for instance, organizations like Hizbollah or country like Iran,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference following a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

“So this is a message to countries and organizations hostile to Israel that they should not try to utilize the situation,” he said, adding that the US has deployed armed forces in the region to prevent an escalation.

Stoltenberg stressed that Israel “has the right to defend itself” and that as the conflict unfolds, the protection of civilians is “essential.”

At the NATO ministerial meeting Thursday, Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant intervened to inform the Allies about Hamas’ “horrific terrorist attacks against civilians in Israel and against Israel,” Stoltenberg said.

“Allies strongly condemned Hamas’ indefensible attacks on civilians, and called for the immediate release of all hostages,” he said, adding that “a number of NATO Allies made clear that they are providing practical support to Israel.”

He stressed that NATO as an organization was not “directly involved” in the war between Israel and Hamas, but acknowledged that it was “important” that ministers address the current situation.

He said Israel’s defense minister showed his NATO counterparts a “shocking” video that he said contained “horrific” images of the weekend attacks and casualties.

He said some of those images had already been shown to the general public, adding that the video confirmed “the brutality of the attacks on innocent civilians.”

“As this conflict evolves, it is important to protect civilians and this was also clearly expressed by Allies. There are rules of war. There are the requests for proportionality. And this was highlighted by many Allies. And that’s something they state at the same time as they very clearly condemn the brutal atrocities and the violence that Hamas has been responsible for,” said the NATO secretary general.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Thursday accused Israel of seeking genocide in Gaza by cutting off electricity and water, as well as denying the entry of food and medicine.

“Today, the continuation of war crimes by (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and Zionists against the civilians in Gaza, besieging, cutting off water and electricity, and denying entry of medicine and food, has created conditions where the Zionists are seeking a genocide of all people in Gaza,” he said.

The diplomatic head of Iran, speaking to the media before beginning a tour of Iraq and Lebanon, stressed that the war in Gaza was not against a group – referring to its ally Hamas -, but against “all Palestinians.” EFE