China deploys six warships to Middle East over fears Israel crisis could spark WW3

THE Gaza crisis could spiral into an all-out world war in six terrifying steps, an ex-Navy chief has warned.

If things “go really wrong”, Admiral Lord West predicted the UK and US could see boots on the ground in Israel – and Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Russia might be drawn into the fight.

Tensions in the Middle East have soared since Hamas terrorists unleashed hell onto Israel during their unexpected October 7 attacks that left some 1,400 Israelis dead.

The full force of Israel’s military might has been massing on the border for two weeks as Gaza braces itself for the looming full-scale ground invasion – and what Israel expects to be a “long war”.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that every Hamas terrorist is “marked by death” and said Israel is “fighting for its existence” against “new Nazis”. Meanwhile, at least 4,000 Palestinians have been killed after almost two weeks of Israel pounding the densely-populated enclave from above.

Rockets, air strikes, hospital bombings and a humanitarian crisis have ensued, while Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah threaten to open up new fronts. “It is a dangerous, heady mix,” Lord West told The Sun. “This might turn into a fight.”

The Chinese military has deployed its 44th naval escort task force to the Middle East amid rising tensions in Israel.

China has deployed six warships to the Middle East as the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalates, according to reports.

The 44th naval escort task force – from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theatre – has been involved in routine operations in the region and spent several days in Oman last week. The Chinese warships left Muscat for an unspecified location on Saturday after participating in an exercise with the Omani navy.

The task force includes the Zibo, a guided missile destroyer, the frigate Jingzhou, and the supply ship Qiandaohu – all of which will be stationed in the Middle East as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza. During the visit to Oman, Chinese commanders met with Omani military officials and visited military institutions, while sailors from both countries toured shops and even organized a basketball game, according to a state news agency.

Since arriving in the Gulf of Aden north of Somalia six months ago, the PLA task force has been involved in escort missions for shipping. However, it handed over its mission to the 45th task force – from the PLA’s Northern Theatre command – earlier this month. Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Thursday that a two-state solution to establish an independent Palestine is the “fundamental way out” of the Israel-Hamas war.

According to China’s state broadcaster CCTV, Xi said: “The top priority now is a ceasefire as soon as possible, to avoid the conflict from expanding or even spiraling out of control and causing a serious humanitarian crisis.” China’s deployment comes after the US sent a powerful arsenal to the Middle East earlier this week.

The Pentagon has placed roughly 2,000 Army and Air Force personnel and a range of units on a state of readiness as Israel prepares for their attack against Hamas. The US sent two aircraft carriers – including the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower – to the eastern Mediterranean along with planes that could carry out airstrikes.

Even more planes have been dispatched to US military bases in the region, including F-15 and F-16 fighter jet squadrons. The increased military presence in the Middle East reflects concern in Washington that rising tensions in Israel could become an all-out war.

Scoop: Israel says it found Hamas files with instructions for making cyanide-based weapon

The Israeli military found a USB key with instructions for the production of a “cyanide dispersion device” on the body of a Hamas operative who participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, according to two Israeli officials and a copy of a classified Israeli Foreign Ministry cable obtained by Axios.

The big picture: It is not clear from the file whether Hamas had any serious or operational plan for using makeshift chemical weapons or whether the group had attempted to produce them.

Behind the scenes: The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation department sent a classified cable to Israeli embassies in dozens of capitals worldwide, including Washington, on Thursday under the headline: “Hamas intention of using chemical weapons.”

  • The authenticity of the Hamas file could not be independently confirmed by Axios, but Israeli officials have previously said they wouldn’t share information with allies if they didn’t think it was authentic and reliable.