Paris — Countries around the world have reacted to a wave of attacks by land, sea and air carried out by Palestinian armed group Hamas that Israel says has claimed more than 700 lives.
The statements by world leaders ranged from outright condemnation of the attacks and strong support for Israel from Western nations, to support for Hamas from some Middle Eastern countries.
Many have called for a de-escalation of the conflict, after Israel launched air strikes and other military operations targeting Gaza that Palestinian authorities say killed at least 413 people.
Here is a round-up of the reactions:
President Joe Biden said US support for Israel was “rock solid and unwavering” and ordered US ships and warplanes to move closer to Israel.
Washington also promised to provide munitions and equipment to Israel, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Sunday.
At least four US citizens were killed in Hamas’ surprise attack, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after a briefing, adding that the toll was likely to rise.
President Ebrahim Raisi said on Sunday that Iran supported the Palestinians’ right to self-defence and warned Israel must be held accountable for endangering the region.
A senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had already backed the attack Saturday, calling it a “proud operation”.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry called for “an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, protection of civilians, and self-control”.
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting Sunday, a day after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged diplomatic efforts in the Middle East to prevent wider conflict.
Diplomats said the council did not consider any joint statement, let alone a binding resolution, with members led by Russia hoping for a broader focus than condemning Hamas.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen posted Sunday on X, formerly Twitter: “The full scale of the brutality of the Hamas terror attack leaves us breathless.
“Defenceless people, brutally murdered in cold blood on the streets. We stand strong with Israel and its people. Today the EU and Israeli flags fly side by side.”
“China is deeply concerned about the current escalation of tension and violence between Palestine and Israel,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It called for “calm” and urged all parties to “cease fire immediately”.
Russia’s foreign ministry called for an “immediate ceasefire” and negotiations towards “a comprehensive, lasting and long-awaited peace,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Israel had an “indisputable” right to defend itself, adding that “terror is always a crime”.
The ruling African National Congress issued a statement Sunday saying: “It can no longer be disputed that Apartheid South Africa’s history is occupied Palestine’s reality.
“As a result, the decision by Palestinians to respond to the brutality of the settler Israeli apartheid regime is unsurprising.”
The statement added that it was clear that “the degenerating security situation is directly linked to the unlawful Israeli occupation”.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna held talks by telephone with several of her counterparts in the Middle East in a bid to “prevent the conflict degenerating” by spreading to other parts of the region, a ministry statement Sunday.
France’s foreign ministry also called for the immediate release of the hostages taken by Hamas.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday Israel has the right to defend itself against “barbaric attacks” and “to protect its citizens and to pursue the attackers.”
German-Israeli nationals are among the hostages taken by Hamas, a foreign ministry source confirmed.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Sunday he had assured Netanyahu of London’s “steadfast support”.
“We will do everything that we can to help. Terrorism will not prevail.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday urged Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas “to support peace” and refrain from harming civilians.
“There is no good in (attacking) civilians,” Erdogan said.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has called Netanyahu to reaffirm “Rome’s full solidarity” following the Hamas offensive.
“Italy stands by the Israeli people at this difficult time,” said a government statement.
Japan “strongly condemns” the attacks, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said in a statement Sunday, as well as the taking of hostages by Hamas.
“Meanwhile, we are seriously concerned about the large number of casualties in the Gaza Strip as a result of attacks by the Israel Defence Forces,” she added, calling for restraint.
Pope Francis on Sunday said “terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.
“War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat! Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India stood “in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour”.
“Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel,” Modi said.
Venezuela’s government expressed its “deep concern” over the clashes.
In a statement on X, it said the fighting was “the result of the impossibility of the Palestinian people to find in multilateral international legality a space to assert their historic rights”.
In Yemen, the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa expressed their support for “the heroic jihadist operation”, in a statement.
The Hamas attack “revealed the weakness, fragility and impotence” of Israel, it said.
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