Iran Signals Escalated Fighting in North as State Dept Urges Ramadan 'Religious Freedom' on Temple Mount

JERUSALEM, Israel – Fighting between Hezbollah and Israel intensified Thursday with fears of a wider war in the near future. That conflict may include Iranian-backed forces in Syria and Iraq. 

The Syrian government accused Israel of major attacks in and around Damascus Wednesday. One building reportedly served as the headquarters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in southern Damascus.

Israel aslo attacked a number of Hezbollah installations in southern Lebanon. Iran announced it has given the green light to its proxy to escalate the fighting in the north.

CNN reports the Biden administration is concerned Israel is preparing for war with Hezbollah in late spring or early summer if diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement fail.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant revaled Wednesday that Israel was “operating” in all areas of Lebanon, including areas far from the Israel-Lebanon border.

Gallant added Israel is committed to bringing tens of thousands of Israelis back to their homes, even if it means a wider war. 

“We are giving a chance for a process of settlement, and on the other hand, we are preparing all the possibilities, in order to safely return the residents (of evacuated areas in Israel’s north) to their homes – even in an operation that is not a diplomatic operation,” Gallant stated.

With the Muslim holiday of Ramadan less than two weeks away, the U.S. State Department is urging Israel to respect religious freedom and allow access to the Temple Mount.

Spokesman Matthew Miller declared, “It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s not just a matter of granting people religious freedom that they deserve and that to which they have a right, but it’s also a matter that directly is important to Israel’s security. It is not in Israel’s security interest to inflame tensions in the West Bank or in the broader region.”

Israel Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alex Gandler insisted, “Let’s make it very clear all security challenges and all decision-making is in line with one of the cornerstones of Israeli society, which is freedom of religion and allowing people from all religions to pray.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is asking Muslims in Israel to take action on the first day of Ramadan and flock to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Historically, Israel has imposed age limits on the Muslim worshippers during the month of Ramadan because the Muslims have used the holiday to riot on the Temple Mount. 

Meanwhile Wednesday, family members of hostages held by Hamas began a four-day march from the Gaza border to Jerusalem as they hope and pray for a deal that would free their loved ones.

Ronen Neutra, the father of one hostage, Omer, said, “We send them strength and ask them to hold a little longer – Omer, just a little longer. The deal is possible.”

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