KARACHI: The surprise Hamas-led raid on Israel attracted a strong and, in some cases, unprecedented reaction from several countries on Saturday.
The West at large, as well as allies of the Jewish state, led by the United States, unanimously condemned the strikes from Gaza.
However, voices from some Muslim countries, notably Qatar and Kuwait, minced no words in holding Israel responsible for the current situation.
Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, who are both currently in the process of normalising diplomatic relations with Israel, were among those who advised both sides against escalation.
Russia, which is facing global criticism over its war against Ukraine, also appears to have aligned itself with the UAE and Saudi Arabia by urging restraint.
Pakistan seeks cessation of hostilities; Qatar, Kuwait hold Tel Aviv responsible for violence
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdano also said Moscow is in contact with Israel, the Palestinians and Arab countries in connection with the escalation of the conflict.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office, while expressing concern, asked the international community to come together for cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said he was “heartbroken by the escalating violence in the Middle East which underscored the urgent need to address the Palestine Question”.
In a tweet, he said: “We urge restraint and protection of civilians. Enduring peace in the Middle East lies in a two-state solution with a viable, contiguous, sovereign State of Palestine, founded on pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al-Sharif at its heart.”
Qatar said, “Israel alone was responsible for the ongoing escalation of violence with the Palestinian people”.
According to Reuters, the Qatari foreign ministry called for both sides to show restraint.
Kuwait expressed its “grave concern” over developments between Israel and the Palestinians. It also blamed Israel for what it called its “blatant attacks”.
In a statement on X, Saudi Arabia’s ministry of foreign affairs called for an immediate halt to the escalation, protection of civilians, and restraint. The Kingdom recalled its repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continued occupation and the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights.
“The Kingdom renews the call of the international community to assume its responsibilities and activate a credible peace process that leads to the two-state solution to achieve security and peace in the region and protect civilians.”
In a tweet, UAE’s ministry of foreign affairs stressed that the Gulf state had called for exercising the utmost restraint and an immediate ceasefire in order to avoid serious repercussions.
It expressed that the “UAE, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, urges the international community to immediately reactivate the international Quartet to revive the path process of Arab-Israeli peace, and increase all efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, and prevent the region from experiencing further violence, tension, and instability”.
An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei congratulated Palestinian fighters, the semi-official ISNA news site reported.
“We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem,” it quoted Yahya Rahim Safavi as saying.
Iran’s state television showed parliament members rising from their seats to chant “Death to Israel”.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani was quoted by ISNA as saying: “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.”
The Hezbollah group, an arch foe of Israel, said it was in “direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance”.
The group described events as a “decisive response to Israel’s continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalisation with Israel”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said 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.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for restraint from all parties.
While warning of “grave consequences”, the Egyptian foreign ministry also called for “exercising maximum restraint and avoiding exposing civilians to further danger”.
In a tweet, former UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “The unfolding events in Israel and Palestine are deeply alarming. We need an immediate ceasefire and urgent de-escalation.
“And we need a route out of this tragic cycle of violence: ending the occupation is the only means of achieving a just and lasting peace.”
While United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the attack, UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said: “This is a dangerous precipice, and I appeal to all to pull back from the brink.”
Issuing condemnation, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said they were deeply shocked by the rocket fire and the escalating violence. Germany stands by Israel, he said on social media.
In similar remarks, French President Emmanuel Macron while strongly condemning the Hamas action said, “I express my full solidarity with the victims, and their families and those close to them.”
In his statement of condemnation, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau said such acts of violence are completely unacceptable. “We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself,” he said on X.
Britain also unequivocally condemned the “horrific attacks” and expressed support for Israel.
European Union Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said: “I unequivocally condemn the attack carried out by Hamas terrorists against Israel. It is terrorism in its most despicable form.”
However, Ms Leyen’s remarks received criticism from Clare Daly, a member of European Parliament.
“Sickening. @EU_Commission president criminally giving Israel carte blanche for the spectacle of shocking violence it will now unleash against desperate civilians caged in Gaza, dressed up as “self-defence”.
In a tweet on X, Ms Daly said, “Endorsing a massacre. Unforgiveable thuggery. She does not speak for us.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned what he called a “terror attack” on Israel and said Tel Aviv’s right to defend itself “cannot be doubted”.
With input from agencies / Iftikhar A. Khan
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2023