Up to six Chinese Warships have been spotted in Middle Eastern waters as Israel steps up its airstrikes against Gaza.
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a statement:
“We need to enter under the best possible conditions, and this is what we are doing now, as the next stage of war approaches.”
“From today, we are increasing the strikes and minimizing the danger.”
“We will narrow the risks to our forces over the next stages. This is why we have once again urged residents of Gaza to keep moving south,” he added.
Many media outlets have taken Hagari’s words as meaning they are preparing for an imminent ground assault.
Meanwhile, 20 large trucks loaded with humanitarian aid passed into Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt.
However, controversy was sparked after a report from The New York Times revealed the aid convoy was not checked by inspectors before entering the strip, meaning weapons or ammo could be hidden in the convoy.
But the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories denied there were no checks when the aid entered Gaza.
“All of the equipment was checked before going into Gaza,” it says in a statement, noting the shipment included “only water, food and medical equipment.”
“We emphasize that Israel is able to make sure that nothing goes in or out except the aforementioned,” it adds.
World War Three fears
Concerns are mounting that Hezbollah could fully enter the conflict, with growing speculation that the Iran-backed and well-armed Shia paramilitary group is ready to attack northern Israel when the ground assault is launched on the Gaza Strip.
US warships and at least one carrier are also in the region as part of “support” operations.
The USS Gerald Ford Carrier Strike Group's maneuvers in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea from October 10 to 21. pic.twitter.com/0gH7D63uJU— Duan Dang (@duandang) October 21, 2023
Other major global powers, including Russia and China, are showing their presence in the region, mostly notably the ones that have issued severe criticisms of Israel’s impending Gaza assault.
As the tension mounts around Israel, The South China Morning Post confirmed that Chinese warships have been in Middle East waters over the last week.
The report said:
“The 44th naval escort task force has been involved in routine operations in the area since May and last week spent several days on a visit to Oman, including a joint exercise with the country’s navy, according to the Chinese defense ministry website.”
The Chief of General Staff for the Israeli Defense Force, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi met with Commanders of Golani Brigade today in Southern Lebanon near the Border with the Gaza Strip where he stated, “We will soon enter the Gaza Strip. We will embark on an Operational and… pic.twitter.com/ItguR0tKjk— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) October 21, 2023
Last week, the head of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, warned that American support for Israel could “make other actors intervene.”
“Our strategy towards the Zionist entity never changes: the removal of the Zionist entity,” Iranian Armed Forces Spokesman Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi said in 2021.
“Israel must be eliminated.”
Baqeri did not specify whether his own armed forces would be among the actors to invade Israel, but he did not deny the possibility.
“The continuation of the Zionist regime’s crimes (in Gaza) and the direct support and backing from certain countries would further complicate the situation and could make other actors intervene in this arena,” Baqeri was quoted as saying.
PressTV reported that Baqeri specified the “transfer of military equipment and weapons” to Israel as the sort of “direct support” that could lead to other players attacking Israel.