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Israel Amidst Unprecedented Terrorist Attacks
President Biden condemned the “heinous” attacks carried out by Hamas terrorists on Saturday and pledged that his administration would ensure that Israel has “whatever it takes for its defense,” which was met with global condemnation and sparked anger among Israel’s allies.
The United States “stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist attacks,” according to Biden, who claimed to have notified Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has the right to self-defense, end of story. Terrorist acts are never justified, and my administration is steadfast in its support for Israel’s security.
The unprecedented incursion by Hamas, which Biden described just days after the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, marked the most significant attack in years in Israel and posed the risk of escalating conflict. Israel responded with airstrikes in Gaza. Netanyahu said, “We are in a fight.”
Biden said that the people of Israel “were under attack by a terrorist organization” and “at this moment of unrest, I want to say to them and to the world and to all the terrorists: The United States stands with Israel. We will ensure they get the help they need to continue defending themselves.”
He added, “The world has seen horrifying images – thousands of rockets raining down on Israeli cities,” and Hamas not only targeted Israeli soldiers but also killed Israeli civilians – Just days after Hamas took entire families hostage, innocent civilians were killed and maimed in the streets and in their homes. This is unconscionable.”
The flare-up shattered American efforts to expand normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries, not only with Saudi Arabia, which has drawn most of the attention, but also with smaller Arab states.
U.S. officials say they intend to continue to try to de-escalate the situation in the region, working with Arab partners, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, to reduce the situation’s intensity. However, they acknowledge that prospects for success are slim as active hostilities persist between Israel and the Palestinians.
Blinken was planning a trip to the Middle East at the end of the month, with stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia, but according to several American officials familiar with internal discussions, those plans are now on hold.
In the immediate term, these officials say the United States will work with Arab stakeholders in the region to try to reduce tensions. Still, they are not optimistic about the prospects of any short-term solution given the scale of Hamas attacks and the Israeli military response.
Like Biden, who said the United States “condemns this terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms,” many world leaders spoke out forcefully in support of Israel’s right to self-defense and pledged unity.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a post on his official Telegram channel, “We believe that order will be restored, and the terrorists will be destroyed.” Zelensky, who is Jewish and whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust, added, “Israel’s right to self-defense cannot be questioned.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, denounced Hamas’ “senseless attacks” and asserted that violence was neither a political answer nor a sign of bravery. It is pure terrorism.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country stands with Israel, and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer expressed a similar sentiment. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he is “deeply concerned” about the attacks and that Israel has the “right to defend itself.”
In Vienna, the offices of the Austrian chancellor and foreign ministry displayed Israeli flags in a show of solidarity. Nehammer said in a post on Twitter, “There is no justification for violence.”
In Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to Israel Mikhail Bogdanov told the state news agency TASS that Moscow is in contact with “all parties” to the conflict and urged “an immediate ceasefire and peace” between Hamas and Israel.
Saudi Arabia demanded an immediate end to the hostilities and asked both parties to show restraint and safeguard civilians. A statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry noted, “The kingdom warns against the consequences of the current situation, in light of the explosive situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
These events have raised alarms, warning against the consequences of the ongoing forcible displacement of Palestinians, the denial of their legitimate rights, and Israel’s provocations in the occupied territories.”