Region reacts as Hamas attack on Israel spirals

AFP , Saturday 7 Oct 2023

Some regional leaders urged restraint after Saturday's deadly Hamas attack targeting Israel and the retaliation that followed, but others blamed Israel itself and some celebrated the surprise assault.

Hezbollah
Hezbollah supporters hold placards in Arabic that read: Was born for peace and didn t see peace, during a rally in celebration of the attacks that the militant Hamas group carried out against Israel, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. AP

 

The early morning Hamas offensive by air, land and sea was met by Israeli air strikes on the blockaded coastal enclave, in the bloodiest escalation with the Palestinians since May 2021.

"We are at war," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, promising that "the enemy will pay an unprecedented price".

Here is a roundup of reactions from the region:

Egypt
 

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warned "against the danger of the situation deteriorating and sliding into more violence".

In a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, he urged international cooperation on stopping the conflict from getting worse.

Cairo has historically been a key mediator in conflicts between the two sides.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke to his Jordanian, UAE, Turkish, Russian, German, French and Spanish counterparts, and to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

A foreign ministry statement said Shoukry sought to rally "international actors" to "intervene immediately".

Jordan
 

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".

The Hamas assault follows months of surging violence against Palestinians, with fatalities in the occupied West Bank reaching a scale unseen in years.

Jordan and Egypt were the first two countries in the region to agree peace deals with Israel.

UAE
 

The United Arab Emirates called for "an immediate ceasefire" and "exercising the utmost restraint," state news agency WAM reported.

"The UAE has expressed its sincere condolences to all the victims of the recent crisis," a foreign ministry statement said, stressing the importance of protecting civilians.

Abu Dhabi normalised relations with Israel in 2020 under the US-backed Abraham Accords, along with Bahrain and Morocco.

Morocco
 

"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.

Arab League
 

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".

He said: "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."

Saudi Arabia
 

"The Kingdom calls for an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, protection of civilians, and self-control," a foreign ministry statement said.

Riyadh echoed statements by other regional leaders -- including Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar Oman, and the Jeddah-based Organisation for Islamic Cooperation -- that the attack was "a result of the continued occupation and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights".

The violence comes amid growing speculation about impending normalisation of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, after Riyadh and Washington held talks on certain Saudi conditions, according to people briefed on the meetings.

Syria
 

The foreign ministry called the Hamas operation an "honourable achievement that proves the only way for Palestinians to obtain their legitimate rights is resistance in all its forms".

Damascus also expressed its "support" for the Palestinian people and the forces "fighting against Zionist terrorism".

Iran
 

A senior adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the attack, calling it a "proud operation".

"We support this operation," Yahya Rahim Safavi said, quoted by ISNA news agency.

Safavi backed the Palestinian militants "until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem".

In parliament, lawmakers chanted "Down with Israel", "Down with America" and "Welcome Palestine", according to a video published by the Tasnim news agency.

Yemen
 

Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa said they supported "the heroic jihadist operation".

In a statement published on the website of the Houthi-controlled SABA news agency, the militant group said the attack "revealed the weakness, fragility and impotence" of Israel.

It called the operation "a battle of dignity, pride, and defence".

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