Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that Israel's continuing offensive in Gaza could cause a violent reaction across the region – and the terror-sponsoring country has even threatened to punish the United States if it comes to that. In the north, Hezbollah terrorists are launching the occasional rocket into Israel.
In a recent address to the Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned both Iran and Hezbollah: "Don't test us in the north. Don't make the mistake of the past. Today, the price you will pay will be far heavier."
At the same time, Israel has amassed troops along its border with the northern portion of Gaza as it prepares its ground offensive in response to Hamas' murderous invasion on October 7 and the days following.
Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana) tells AFN the U.S. must back Israel to the full. "We've got to help and support our greatest ally in the world, which is Israel," he states, "and we've got to support their cause to wipe Hamas off the map."
Hamas kidnapped and killed civilians during its invasion, and the prolonged torture and violent murders of men, women, and children deserves the strongest of responses, says Banks. "These are evil terrorists and the things that they've done to Israelis deserve retribution."
Show of force, show of support
President Joe Biden is currently in Israel as a show of support. And the Pentagon recently ordered a second aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean near Israel with the mission of deterring Iran and the terrorist group it supports, Hezbollah, from joining the Israel-Hamas conflict. The USS Eisenhower carrier strike group is joining the USS Ford carrier strike group in a major show of force.
A retired Navy officer and military analyst says the positioning of those carrier battle groups is a really good move.
"First and foremost, they serve as a stabilizing force to make Arab nations realize that we are not going to tolerate Iran and their destabilizing activities with terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah," says Commander Kirk Lippold (USN-Ret.). "[It also shows] that we are prepared to back Israel with every weapon available to us in order to ensure that the Middle East does not unravel into a full-blown regional war."
But Congressman Banks says Congress has a vital role to play as well. "I think Israel has to act quickly, very quickly – and one very important fear in all of this is that the Iron Dome eventually runs out. They need America's help to keep it sustained and funded," he urges, noting that may be the only point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats, with a few notable exceptions.
"There's definitely bipartisan support [for that]," the Indiana lawmaker continues. "The president has been so weak and soft in his reaction so far. He's said a little bit – too little too late, I suppose," says Banks.
Like Banks, Lippold says Israel must be allowed to completely destroy Hamas.
"They must take away their ability to project any degree of terrorist power. They can no longer be allowed to govern because they do it irresponsibly. They must be utterly destroyed," the retired Navy officer emphasizes. "By the same token, Hezbollah needs to be sent to clear warning: Do not start a northern war in Israel because we are going to then start stepping in and we will help the Israelis."