The leaders of the UK, US, France, Germany and Italy have released a joint statement expressing “steadfast and united support” for the state of Israel and “unequivocal condemnation” of Hamas.
It follows an unprecedented attack on Israel from Gaza on Saturday by the Palestinian militant group, with Israel responding with airstrikes and a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip.
The statement was released after a call between the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak; the US president, Joe Biden; the French president, Emmanuel Macron; the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz; and the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. Together the five countries comprise the Quint international organisation.
“We make clear that the terrorist actions of Hamas have no justification, no legitimacy, and must be universally condemned,” the statement reads. “There is never any justification for terrorism.
“In recent days, the world has watched in horror as Hamas terrorists massacred families in their homes, slaughtered over 200 young people enjoying a music festival, and kidnapped elderly women, children, and entire families, who are now being held as hostages.
“Our countries will support Israel in its efforts to defend itself and its people against such atrocities. We further emphasise that this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage.”
At least 900 people have reportedly been killed in Israel since the conflict began on Saturday, with more than 650 dead in Gaza. More than 100 people have been taken hostage by Hamas, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.
On Sunday, the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, announced that he had ordered American naval ships, including an aircraft carrier, to move closer to the eastern Mediterranean in response to Hamas’s attack. But it was confirmed on Monday that the US has no intention of putting military on the ground after the attacks on Israel.
Earlier on Monday, Sunak pledged to provide diplomatic, intelligence or security support to Israel if requested after he chaired an emergency Cobra meeting.
Despite its condemnation of Hamas, the statement did make some concession to what it called the “legitimate aspirations” of the Palestinian people.
“All of us recognise the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and support equal measures of justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike. But make no mistake: Hamas does not represent those aspirations, and it offers nothing for the Palestinian people other than more terror and bloodshed.”
Source : The Guardian