The war between Hamas and Israel war has triggered strong anti-Israel sentiments in the region and heightened fears of a broader conflict engulfing actors such as Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Worried that the conflict in Gaza could escalate into a regional confrontation, the US has dispatched two aircraft carrier strike groups within range, including additional troops and military advisors.
But alongside tough rhetoric, the violence in Gaza has renewed apparent pragmatism by important regional states such as Iran and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has openly slammed Israel’s bombings of the Palestinian coastal enclave. On the other hand, Ankara has avoided issuing direct threats against Tel Aviv and, in an apparent unusual move, allegedly distanced itself from Hamas in the aftermath of the Palestinian movement’s surprise attack on Israel last month.
Iran and its regional allies, such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemen’s Ansarullah movement—better known as the Houthis—have adopted more hostile stances. Both Hezbollah and the Houthis have directly attacked Israel. However, Tehran itself has focused on the political track, pushing for Muslim countries to embargo Israel amid its campaign to galvanize anti-Israeli sentiment in the region. The call for an embargo has gained momentum in light of some Muslim countries’ decisions to downgrade ties with Israel—raising fears among some of Israel’s regional partners.