The Western world, much of which by and large supports Israel, woke up to shocking scenes on Saturday of Israeli civilians being taken captive and driven or in some cases literally walked across the border into Gaza.
Today marks the biggest Hamas assault on Israel amid signs of a general Palestinian uprising in a couple of decades. Israeli PM Netanyahu has promised a wider war, likely to come in the form of a ground invasion of Gaza in an attempt to root out Hamas once and for all.
This conflict will get worse before it gets better, and is sure to last weeks or possibly months. The danger of escalation with Hezbollah in the north will only grow.
Washington has already vowed to support Israel as it retaliates and attempts to free the Israeli soldiers which Hamas has taken captive, though numbers of troops and civilians in Hamas hands can’t be confirmed at this point.
Shocking videos of Israeli civilians being taken captive…
⚡️Another video of hostages taken by Hamas into Gaza pic.twitter.com/xQHgHZB8Ob
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) October 7, 2023
Multiple disturbing videos like the below are coming out of the region…
This is the worst attack I’ve seen since moving to Israel 9 years ago—Israeli civilians captured by Hamas terrorists, Israeli towns overrun by Hamas. IDF was caught completely unprepared for this sneak invasion. Preparing now for all-out war. Terrifying. pic.twitter.com/vw882OSgHP
— Joel C. Rosenberg (@JoelCRosenberg) October 7, 2023
Israeli civilians are being kidnapped off the streets of southern Israel…
Wild: Israel has completely lost control of settlements near Gaza, Hamas is straight up carrying off Israeli captives a mix of civilian and military, men and women alike pic.twitter.com/GStZnz0ZPD
— ib (@Indian_Bronson) October 7, 2023
Below is initial world reaction, via Middle East Eye…
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For several weeks, rumours have swirled that Saudi Arabia is edging closer to normalizing ties with Israel as Israeli ministers visited the Gulf kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry offered a mild statement, calling for an “immediate cessation of violence”.
“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,” the foreign ministry said.
An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday congratulated Palestinian fighters for launching the biggest attack on Israel in years, the semi-official ISNA news site reported.
“We congratulate the Palestinian fighters,” it quoted Yahya Rahim Safavi as saying. “We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem.”
Iran’s state television showed parliament members rising from their seats on Saturday to chant “Death to Israel” and “Palestine is victorious, Israel will be destroyed”.
Qatar’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Israel alone was responsible for the ongoing escalation of violence with the Palestinian people.
It said Qatar calls on both sides to exercise utmost restraint and on the international community to prevent Israel from using these events as an excuse to launch a disproportionate war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Over the years, Gaza’s closest neighbour, Egypt, has played a central role in negotiating ceasefires between Palestinian militant groups in Gaza and Israel.
Egypt on Saturday 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”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday 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.”
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States would work to ensure that Israel “has what it needs to defend itself”.
“Over the coming days the Department of Defence will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism,” Austin said in a statement.
British Foreign Minister James Cleverly took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to issue a condemnation against Hamas.
“The UK unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. The UK will always support Israel’s right to defend itself,” said Cleverly.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minsiter Mikhail Bogdanov told the Interfax News agency that Moscow was in contact with Israel, the Palestinians and Arab countries.
“It goes without saying that we always call for restraint,” said Bogdanov.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said it “strongly condemns the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israel, including rockets against the civilian population in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv”.
The ministry added: “We express our support for Israel in its right to defend itself and its people.”
The United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an immediate halt to the violence, saying he was shocked by reports that hundreds of rockets had been fired towards Israel.
“This attack is having a horrific impact on Israeli civilians,” Volker Tuerk said in a statement.
“Civilians must never be the target of attack.”