The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s longest-running and most controversial conflicts. At its heart, it is a conflict between two self-determination movements — the Jewish Zionist project and the Palestinian nationalist project — that lay claim to the same territory.
The statements by world leaders ranged from outright condemnation of the attacks and strong support for Israel from Western nations, to support for Hamas from some Middle Eastern countries.
Many have called for a de-escalation of the conflict after Israel launched air strikes and other military operations targeting Gaza that the Palestinian authorities say have killed hundreds.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India stands “in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour”.
“Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel,” he said.
President Joe Biden said US support for Israel was “rock solid and unwavering”. On Sunday, he ordered US ships and warplanes to move closer to Israel.
Washington also promised to provide munitions and equipment to Israel, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement on Sunday.
Several US citizens were among those killed in Hamas’ surprise attack, according to a US National Security Council spokesperson.
President Ebrahim Raisi said on Sunday that Iran supported the Palestinians’ right to self-defence, and warned that Israel must be held accountable for endangering the region.
A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had already backed the attack last Saturday, calling it a “proud operation”.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry called for “an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, protection of civilians and self-control”.
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday, a day after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged diplomatic efforts in the Middle East to prevent wider conflict.
Diplomats said the Security Council did not consider any joint statement, let alone a binding resolution, with members led by Russia hoping for a broader focus than condemning Hamas.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had already condemned the attack by Hamas last Saturday.
On Sunday, she posted on X, formerly Twitter: “The full scale of the brutality of the Hamas terror attack leaves us breathless.
“Defenceless people, brutally murdered in cold blood on the streets. We stand strong with Israel and its people. Today, the EU and Israeli flags fly side by side.”
The ruling African National Congress issued a statement on Sunday saying: “It can no longer be disputed that apartheid South Africa’s history is occupied Palestine’s reality.
“As a result, the decision by Palestinians to respond to the brutality of the settler Israeli apartheid regime is unsurprising.”
The statement added it was clear that “the degenerating security situation is directly linked to the unlawful Israeli occupation”.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna held talks by telephone with several of her counterparts in the Middle East in a bid to “prevent the conflict degenerating” by spreading to other parts of the region, a ministry statement said on Sunday.
France’s Foreign Ministry also called for the immediate release of the hostages taken by Hamas.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that Israel has the right to defend itself against “barbaric attacks” and “to protect its citizens and to pursue the attackers”.
He called Mr Netanyahu to tell him Germany stands “firmly and unwaveringly by Israel’s side”.
German-Israeli nationals are among the hostages taken by Hamas, a Foreign Ministry source confirmed.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday he had assured Mr Netanyahu of London’s “steadfast support”.
“We will do everything that we can to help. Terrorism will not prevail,” he added in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday urged Israel and Hamas “to support peace” and refrain from harming civilians.
“There is no good in (attacking) civilians,” he said. “We are ready to do everything to reduce the tension.”
“China is deeply concerned about the current escalation of tension and violence between Palestine and Israel,” a Foreign Ministry statement said on Sunday.
Beijing “calls on all parties concerned to remain calm and exercise restraint, cease fire immediately, protect civilians and prevent further deterioration of the situation”, it added.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called for an “immediate ceasefire” and negotiations towards “a comprehensive, lasting and long-awaited peace”, said spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country is fending off a Russian invasion, said on Sunday that he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer condolences “for the numerous casualties caused by the terrorist attack”.
He said last Saturday that Israel had an indisputable right to defend itself, adding that “terror is always a crime”.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has called Mr Netanyahu to reaffirm “Rome’s full solidarity” following the Hamas offensive.
“Italy stands by the Israeli people at this difficult time,” said a government statement.
Japan “strongly condemns” the attacks, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said on Sunday, as well as the taking of hostages by Hamas.
“Meanwhile, we are seriously concerned about the large number of casualties in the Gaza Strip as a result of attacks by the Israel Defence Forces,” her statement continued, calling for restraint.
Pope Francis on Sunday said that “terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.
“War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat! Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine”.
Venezuela’s government expressed its “deep concern” over the clashes.
In a statement on X, it said the fighting was “the result of the impossibility of the Palestinian people to find in multilateral international legality a space to assert their historic rights”.
In Yemen, Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa expressed their support for “the heroic jihadist operation”.
In a statement on the website of the Huthi-controlled Saba news agency, the Iran-aligned militant group said the attack “revealed the weakness, fragility and impotence” of Israel.