The Palestinian group Hamas has launched the biggest attack on Israel in years with many killed, hostages taken, and fighting raging after a surprise assault that included gunmen entering Israeli towns after a barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
Israel said Hamas has declared war as its army mobilised and air force launched strikes on Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising harsh retaliation.
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Here is international reaction to the fighting so far:
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged “an immediate halt to military operations in Gaza” and “the cycle of armed confrontation between the two sides”.
“Israel’s continued implementation of violent and extremist policies is a time bomb depriving the region of any serious opportunity for stability in the foreseeable future.”
UN Security Council chair Brazil announced it will call an emergency meeting of the body to address the escalating violence and it urged restraint.
“The Brazilian government condemns the series of bombings and ground attacks carried out today in Israel starting from the Gaza Strip,” Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, urging parties to “avoid escalating the situation”.
“Belgium strongly condemns the massive rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Violence and terror only perpetuates suffering and hinders the path to dialogue. Our thoughts are with all those affected. We are monitoring the situation closely,” Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Belgium strongly condemns the massive rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Violence and terror only perpetuates suffering and hinders the path to dialogue. Our thoughts are with all those affected. We are monitoring the situation closely.
— Hadja Lahbib (@hadjalahbib) October 7, 2023
Beijing said it was “deeply concerned” by the weekend’s dramatic escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, urging all sides to show “calm”.
“China is deeply concerned about the current escalation of tension and violence between Palestine and Israel,” Beijing’s foreign ministry said, adding it “calls on all parties concerned to remain calm and exercise restraint, cease fire immediately, protect civilians and prevent further deterioration of the situation”.
“The attack conducted from the Gaza Strip is a deplorable act of terrorism against the State of Israel and the civilian population,” President Petr Pavel said in a statement. “The rocket attacks and the infiltration of Hamas commandos into Israel will block any efforts for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for a long time.”
“I unequivocally condemn the attack carried out by Hamas terrorists against Israel… Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen posted on X.
I unequivocally condemn the attack carried out by Hamas terrorists against Israel.
It is terrorism in its most despicable form.
Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 7, 2023
Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said: “We unequivocally condemn the attacks by Hamas. This horrific violence must stop immediately. Terrorism and violence solve nothing.”
Egypt warned of “grave consequences” from an escalation in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in a statement from the foreign ministry carried by the state news agency.
It called for “exercising maximum restraint and avoiding exposing civilians to further danger”.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri also held a call with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to discuss developments, stating that both sides should exercise restraint to avoid serious risks.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “terrorist attacks” against Israel.
“I strongly condemn the terrorist attacks which are currently hitting Israel. I express my full solidarity with the victims, and their families and those close to them,” Macron wrote on X.
The French embassy in Israel on Saturday described the attacks as “inadmissible terrorist attacks”.
“Horrified by the developments coming from the south of the country. These terrorist attacks are inadmissible and must be condemned by everyone. We stand side by side alongside Israel and Israelis,” the French embassy wrote on X.
I strongly condemn the current terrorist attacks against Israel. I express my full solidarity with the victims, their families and loved ones.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 7, 2023
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned of the “volatility” of the situation, “particularly in light of what cities and areas of the West Bank are witnessing of Israeli attacks and violations against the Palestinian people”.
Fatalities in the occupied West Bank have reached a scale unseen in years. Jordan and Egypt were the first two countries in the region to agree peace deals with Israel.
“Terrifying news reaches us today from #Israel. We are deeply shocked by the rocket fire from Gaza and the escalating violence. Germany condemns these attacks by Hamas and stands by Israel,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on social media.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin “firmly condemns the terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel”.
Baerbock said Hamas “contributes to the intensification of violence”, adding “violence and rockets aimed at innocent people must stop immediately”.
“Greece strongly condemns today’s launch of heavy rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel. Greece stands with Israel and is deeply concerned by this unacceptable escalation of violence,” the Greek Foreign Ministry posted on X.
Greece strongly condemns today's launch of heavy rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel.
Greece stands with Israel and is deeply concerned by this unacceptable escalation of violence. pic.twitter.com/xQbrsgbBx0
— Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών (@GreeceMFA) October 7, 2023
The Lebanese armed group Hezbollah issued a statement saying it was closely following the situation in Gaza and was in “direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance”.
Following events involving Gaza fighters who fired a barrage of rockets into Israel, the statement added it was a “decisive response to Israel’s continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalisation with Israel“.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country stood “in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour”.
“Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel,” Modi said.
An adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said Iran supported the Palestinians’ attack, the semi-official ISNA news site reported.
“We congratulate the Palestinian fighters,” it quoted adviser Rahim Safavi as saying. “We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem.”
Iran’s foreign ministry said attacks by its ally Hamas were proof of the Palestinians’ increased confidence in the face of Israel’s occupation.
“In this operation, the element of surprise and other combined methods were used, which show the Palestinian people’s confidence in the face of the occupiers,” ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.
The attacks “proved that the Zionist regime is more vulnerable than ever and that the initiative is in the hands of Palestinian youth,” government spokesperson Ali Bahadori-Jahromi told state news agency IRNA.
Italy said it backed “Israel’s right to defend itself” against the “brutal attack” by Hamas.
The government said it “condemned in the strongest terms the terror and the violence under way against innocent civilians”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is at “war” and he is confident it “will win”.
“Our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.
Japan condemned rocket launches and cross-border attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups into Israeli territory, the foreign ministry said. “Japan urges all parties to exercise utmost restraint to prevent further harm.”
Kuwait expressed its “grave concern” over developments between Israel and the Palestinians, blaming Israel for what it called its “blatant attacks”.
The foreign ministry in a statement called on the international community to “stop the provocative practices by the occupation” and the “policy of expanding settlements”.
“The Kingdom of Morocco expresses its deep concern at the deterioration of the situation and the outbreak of military action in the Gaza Strip, and condemns attacks against civilians wherever they may be,” a foreign ministry statement said.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization condemned “terrorist attacks by Hamas against NATO partner Israel”, a spokesman for the defence alliance said.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and all those affected. Terrorism is a fundamental threat to free societies, and Israel has the right to defend itself,” said spokesman Dylan White.
Palestinian President Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves against the “terror of settlers and occupation troops”, the official news agency WAFA quoted him as saying.
He was speaking at an emergency meeting held in Ramallah with a number of top officials from the Palestinian Authority.
“I strongly condemn Hamas’ ongoing attacks on Israel. This baseless aggression and acts of violence, especially against civilians, are unacceptable. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by these terrible events,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau wrote on X.
Qatar’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying Israel alone was responsible for the ongoing escalation of violence with the Palestinian people.
It called on both sides to exercise utmost restraint and calls on the international community to prevent Israel from using these events as an excuse to launch a disproportionate war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Watch the moment Israeli fighter jets strike Palestine Tower behind Al Jazeera’s Youmna El Sayed as she reports live from Gaza ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/dXHVRJiCOC
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 7, 2023
Russia said it is in contact with Israel, the Palestinians and Arab countries in connection with the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.
“It goes without saying that we always call for restraint,” he added.
The ministry called for an “immediate cessation of violence” between Israel and the Palestinians, the state news agency reported.
“We are following the unprecedented developments between a number of Palestinian factions and Israel occupation forces which has led to a high level of violence on a number of fronts”.
Spain’s acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on X that he condemned the attacks from Gaza against Israel.
“We strongly condemn the very serious terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel. “Overwhelmed by this indiscriminate violence. All our solidarity (is) with the victims.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Israelis and Palestinians to act with restraint and refrain from hostile acts that could exacerbate the situation.
“We call for restraint from all parties,” Erdogan said at a congress for his ruling AK Party in Ankara. “They must refrain from aggressive acts,” he said.
President Volodymr Zelenskyy condemned what he called a “terror attack” on Israel and said Israel’s right to defend itself “cannot be doubted”.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry condemned what it described as “ongoing terrorist attacks” on Israel. “Ukraine strongly condemns the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israel, including rocket attacks against the civilian population in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” the ministry said on X. “We express our support for Israel in its right to defend itself and its people.”
United Arab Emirates
“The UAE calls for the exercise of maximum restraint and an immediate ceasefire to avoid serious repercussions,” the foreign ministry said. “The UAE has expressed its sincere condolences to all the victims of the recent crisis.”
Abu Dhabi normalised relations with Israel in 2020 under the US-backed Abraham Accords, along with Bahrain and Morocco.
The UK also criticised the attack by Hamas on Israel on Saturday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
“The UK unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. The UK will always support Israel’s right to defend itself,” Cleverly said in a post on social media.
The UK unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians.
The UK will always support Israel’s right to defend itself.
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) October 7, 2023
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said: “This is a dangerous precipice and I appeal to all to pull back from the brink.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Tuerk said: “This attack is having a horrific impact on Israeli civilians… Civilians must never be the target of attack.”
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet on Sunday.
“Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] is deeply concerned for the civilian population and urges maximum restraint. Civilians must be respected and protected in accordance with international humanitarian law at all times,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
The US condemned “the appalling Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel”.
“President [Joe Biden] will continue to receive updates and White House officials remain in close contact with Israeli partners,” the White House said in a statement.
“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.”
US military chief Lloyd Austin said: “Over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.”
Biden warned “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation”, adding he had spoken to Netanyahu.
Venezuela’s government expressed its “deep concern” over the clashes.
In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, 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, Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa expressed their support for “the heroic jihadist operation”. In a statement published on the website of the Houthi-controlled SABA news agency, the Iran-aligned group said the attack “revealed the weakness, fragility and impotence” of Israel.
It added that this operation “is a battle of dignity, pride, and defence”.