Al-Jazeera reports a mixed reaction to Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire in response, with Israel and its allies defending the air raids and those supporting the besieged territory denouncing the violence.
Egypt is working to calm the latest escalation. “We hope to reach a consensus to return to calm as soon as possible,” an unnamed security source told AFP news agency. Separately, another source said a delegation from Islamic Jihad may head to Cairo later Saturday. Hamas’ Doha-based leader Ismail Haniyeh has held talks with “Egyptian intelligence” over the violence, a statement from the group said.
In a televised statement, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid pledged to do “whatever it takes to defend our people”. “Israel carried out a precise counter-terror operation against an immediate threat. Our fight is not with the people of Gaza. “Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy, that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. The head of Islamic Jihad is in Tehran as we speak. We will do whatever it takes to defend our people. Israel isn’t interested in a broader conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either.”
The Islamic Jihad said: “The enemy has begun a war targeting our people, and we all have the duty to defend ourselves and our people, and not allow the enemy to get away with its actions, which are aimed at undermining the resistance and national steadfastness.”
Ghazi Hamad, a senior official for Hamas – the group that governs the Strip – said the latest attack is “a brutal crime, a massacre done by the Israeli occupation against our people”. Palestinian factions are exploring the “best option for the Palestinian people”.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs the occupied West Bank, condemned “the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip and demanded its immediate cessation”. “The presidency called on the international community to compel Israel to stop this aggression against our people everywhere, particularly in Gaza, and to provide them with international protection,” it said in a statement.
The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, warned the “dangerous” escalation risked creating the need for more aid at a time when world resources were stretched by other conflicts. “There can be no justification for any attacks against civilians,” said Wennesland, adding “The launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation.”
John Kirby, US National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, defended Israel’s attack on Gaza and urged both sides to de-escalate the situation. “We absolutely fully support Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist groups that are taking the lives of innocent civilians in Israel. As for the two-state solution, we remain committed to a two-state solution. That was one of the president’s key messages on this trip, both to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. We still want to see that be the outcome, but both sides have to want it too.”
Ankara “strongly” condemned the Israeli air raids on Gaza and said it is “unacceptable that civilians, including children, lose their lives in attacks”. The foreign ministry in a statement urged “restraint and common sense”.
Qatar – a major financial backer that has spent billions of dollars rebuilding Gaza and supporting its people after Israeli attacks – expressed its “strong condemnation and denunciation” of Friday’s attacks. It stressed “the need for the international community to move urgently to stop the [Israeli] occupation’s repeated attacks against civilians, especially women and children”.
Amman demanded that Israel “immediately stop its aggression” on the Gaza Strip. Spokesman Haitham Abu al-Ful warned of “dangerous” consequences that will only increase tension and violence. “The solution to the problem of the Gaza Strip and preventing the escalation of violence lies in finding a real political horizon by returning to the negotiating table to achieve a just peace on the basis of the two-state solution,” he said.