A map of Israel on the wall of a gallery hosting a regime-sponsored pro-Hamas art event in Tehran

Iran Newspapers Concerned About Spilling Of Gaza War Into Region

Thursday, 10/19/2023

Following a highly controversial attack on a hospital in Gaza, most Iranian newspapers on Wednesday carried several reports and commentaries on the Israel-Gaza war.

Reformist daily Shargh mentioned US President Joe Biden's visit to Israel and suggested that "The United States is making considerable efforts to prevent Israel from falling in the trap of an endless war." However, the newspaper speculated that "Israeli Prime Minister has probably invited Biden to Israel in a move to avoid a defeat after the October 7 attack by Hamas.”

Meanwhile, Shargh quoted an Israel expert, Amir Ali Bojnourdi, as saying that "The main issue that has so far delayed Israel's ground offensive is a difference of opinion between Netanyahu and the US government, not the possibility of a reaction by Iran or Hezbollah." However, the daily did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged differences between Israel and America.

Etemad, another leading reformist daily in Tehran, interviewed former diplomat Qasem Mohebali about the impact of the Gaza war on Iran. Mohebali suggested that the war in the region poses both a threat and an opportunity for Iran. He argued that if the developments in the region are appropriately managed, it could even help to mend the ties between Iran and the West. However, he emphasized that the outcome would depend on Iran’s diplomatic actions.

On the other hand, Mohebali expressed concerns about the war spilling over into the region, posing significant threats to Iran. He warned that a larger regional war would not just involve Iran and Israel but could also draw in other players. He noted the dangerous divide among people in European cities and in the region, with one group supporting Israel and the other Palestinians. However, he argued that the majority of the world's population supports the Palestinians, as opposed to a smaller group defending Israel.

Aftermath of a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen in Israel (October 18, 2023)

The hardline Daily Farhikhtegan claimed that the attack on the Al-Ahli Hospital was part of "a US plot to garner support for Israel within the community supporting Israel." The hardline paper also contradicted itself, suggesting that the attack aimed to delay Israel's ground offensive against Gaza. Farhikhtegan then tried to support its controversial views by citing IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency, which is often criticized for spreading disinformation and fake news and cannot be independently verified.

Elsewhere, Farhikhtegan quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin, who characterized the attack as a catastrophe, in a common practice by hardline media in Iran, who often cite Russian officials to support their anti-Israel or anti-West claims. 

Aftab Yazd, a daily affiliated with the left-wing Militant Clerics Association, presented a wild speculation that Biden's visit to Israel indicates that the United States no longer supports Netanyahu, the Likud Party, and Israeli hardliners. Commentator Ali Bigdeli stated that the arrival of US and German officials and the CENTCOM commander in Israel suggests that growing dissatisfaction with Netanyahu's policies has shifted military command operations to other powers.

Bigdeli said, "Although the United States is known as Israel's biggest supporter, but the arrival of all these political and military figures in Israel shows that the White House no longer trusts Netanyahu."

He also added that "The United States will never allow Netanyahu to endanger long-term US interests in the region with his crazy adventurism which is aimed at taking revenge on Hamas."

One of the strangest opinions in the Iranian newspaper commentaries appeared in an article by Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Khamenei-controlled Kayhan. He argued, "Opening a new front against Israel by the region's resistance is inevitable," a stark contrast to Khamenei's claims about trying to contain conflicts.

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