Ex-Mideast envoy George Mitchell: Real threat in Israel, Palestinian fighting is Hezbollah


(CBS News) Fighting continued to escalate between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip on Friday, but George Mitchell, retired senator and former U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East peace, says the biggest danger is still looming on the horizon.

Mitchell told "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose that the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, continually upgrades its arsenal of rockets, but he said the real danger to Israel and neighboring countries is the threat of the current clashes escalating to the point that other Islamic extremist groups in the region are drawn in.

"The real danger is not so much from the 8,000 or 10,000 missiles that Hamas has. Hezbollah has more than 30,000 rockets on Israel's northern border that are better, longer range, more destructive," Mitchell said of the militant organization, which has Iran as its backer.

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"Most importantly, Iran has made the leap from liquid fuel rockets to solid fuel rockets and they now possess rockets that, launched from Iran, can reach anywhere in Israel with much greater accuracy and destructive effect than Hamas has," explained the retired diplomat.

Mitchell added that Israel has, "high security interest in maintaining its treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and not taking any action that could somehow spill over into a larger regional conflict."

Click the player above to see Mitchell's full remarks on the current clashes in the Middle East.