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Despite incendiary rhetoric, Iran walks tightrope to avoid direct Israel war

Three weeks into the Israel-Hamas war, Iran has adhered to a strategy of caution to avoid direct engagement, translating its threats into limited attacks on US bases through its proxies. 
Iran protest

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned on Thursday that Gaza will "devour" Israel should the latter invade the densely populated coastal enclave controlled by Tehran-backed Hamas militants.  

"Upon setting boots in Gaza, they will be buried there," declared Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, using his signature anti-Israel rhetoric.  

To the hard-line commander, the Hamas operation "was one of the most exceptional defeats ever suffered" by the United States, Great Britain and Israel. "They will be mistaken by thinking that the Muslim world will sit back watching them destroy part of the Islamic world," he warned. 

Yet the IRGC chief refrained from speaking of any direct Iranian engagement, and followed Tehran's official line since Israel began pounding Gaza in response to Hamas' Oct. 7 onslaught in southern Israeli communities.  

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