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Opposition to Israel's massacre in Gaza growing worldwide despite support by US, West

November 21, 2023 at 3:01 pm

Indian Muslims hold placards with various messages during a protest against Israel and demand a stop to the war in Gaza, on October 13, 2023, in Kolkata City, India [Dipa Chakraborty/ Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images]

Despite support by the US and Germany for Israel’s ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, the global opposition to the Israeli massacre in the blockaded enclave is getting harsher.

Israel has, so far, killed more than 13,300 Palestinians, mostly children and women, as it continues its relentless attacks on the Gaza Strip. Around 6,000 people are unaccounted for, with more than 4,000 of them women and children. They are either buried under the rubble of demolished buildings or their bodies are lying on the streets without being identified.

Israel has forced around 400,000 civilians to migrate from northern Gaza to the south since it started pressure and violent attacks after the 7 October Hamas assault on the Israeli territory.

Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, ambulances and refugee camps lays bare the urgent need for a permanent ceasefire.

The attacks launched by the Israeli administration of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, under the pretext of fighting terrorism were interpreted as the right to self-defence for weeks in the US and European countries, where Tel Aviv garnered huge support and courage.

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However, the tone of voice of the Western administrations changed as Israel’s attacks reached a level of massacre and collected increasing opposition from the public.

Western countries such as the US, Germany and the UK, voicing unwavering support to Israel, are trying to protect Israel from external pressures by rejecting calls for a ceasefire.

While Britain, with its veto power, blocks the UN Security Council and prevents it from taking actions effectively, EU countries that support Israel, especially Germany, prevent the bloc from calling for a ceasefire at the institutional level.

On the other hand, opposition from around the world to Israel’s massacres in the Gaza Strip continues to grow.

Anadolu compiled the stance of Western and non-Western countries regarding Israel’s ongoing attacks on Gaza.

With unwavering support for Israel, US breaks pressure for ceasefire

As the Israeli administration enjoys “unlimited” support by the US in its war on Gaza, Washington still refuses to clearly call for a ceasefire in the Strip, despite thousands of civilian casualties.

The draft resolution, which was vetoed after being submitted by the US to the UN Security Council on 25 October, said “the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on 7 October are strongly condemned” and that countries have the right to self-defence.

It also highlighted the need for a “humanitarian pause in hostilities” instead of a ceasefire, and said sustainable aid should be provided to Gaza.

On the other hand, the draft resolution submitted by Russia to the UN Security Council on 16 and 25 October regarding the immediate declaration of a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza was vetoed by the US.

Defending Israel’s “right to self-defence,” US President, Joe Biden, said: “We are ready to provide all support to the Israeli government and people.”

Pentagon spokesperson, Sabrina Singh, said on 18 October that they gave Israel “the security systems it needs to neutralise and effectively push back Hamas.”

Responding to a question during his speech on investments at the White House on 24 October, Biden announced that they could discuss a ceasefire only “after all the hostages held by Hamas are released”.

During his visit to Israel’s capital, Tel Aviv, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said: “These are difficult days, but we’re here, as we’ve been, as we remain, in solidarity with Israel. We stand strongly for the proposition that Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself and to do everything possible to make sure that this 7 October can never happen again.”

In his remarks in Jordan’s capital, Amman, on 4 November, Blinken said: “It’s our view that a ceasefire now would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on 7 October,” he said.

The US administration has reiterated that it “does not set any limits” on Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

“We are not setting red lines for Israel. We continue to support their security needs, and this will continue,” White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator, John Kirby, said on 27 October, when the number of civilians killed by Israel reached 7,326.

Only after the Palestinian death toll topped 11,000, the US administration changed its tone and began to give veiled messages that could hardly be called a warning to Israel.

Germany becomes biggest supporter of Israel with historical burden

Germany, under the historical burden of committing genocide against the Jews in World War II, has steadily voiced its unconditional support to Israel since the country’s establishment.

Germany, Europe’s greatest power, resolutely opposed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

On 12 November, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, completely ignored the situation of civilians in the face of calls for a ceasefire from the Arab and Islamic world. Scholz said: “I do not think it is right to demand an immediate ceasefire or a long pause (in Gaza) because that means Israel allow Hamas to recover.”

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German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, also supported Israel, saying: “For Germany, Israel’s security is non-negotiable. Addressing the plight of the Palestinians does not, in any way, contradict this clear and unshakable stance.” With this statement, she showed that nothing humane should be expected from her country.

Britain did not change its support for Israel

For the situation after 7 October, the British government quickly decided to deploy two Royal Navy ships and maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft in the Eastern Mediterranean to support Israel.

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who visited Israel on 19 October, ignored the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Gazans in Israeli bombardments when he told the Tel Aviv administration, “We want you to win.”

On 10 November, the spokesperson for British Prime Minister reiterated that they did not support calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and claimed that they did not want a possible ceasefire to benefit Hamas in the current situation.

Britain succeeded in this by working hard with the US to prevent the UN Security Council from taking a ceasefire decision.

The British government has taken its support for Israel so far as to seek to suppress the voices growing among people against the massacre in Gaza. Suella Braverman, the former British Home Secretary, who was replaced by James Cleverly last week, described the demonstrations in support of Palestine held in London as “hate marches”. Braverman, who intended to ban the demonstrations, was dismissed from her post on 13 November as the reactions in the country increased.

EU has not yet called for ceasefire

The EU has still not called for a ceasefire in the face of Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen’s unconditional support for Netanyahu during her visit to Israel on 14 October, her failure to mention the situation in Gaza and her lack of calls to avoid civilian casualties drew rebuff within the EU.

During the demonstrations in support of Palestine held one after another in European capitals on the same days, the EU’s attitude began to be harshly criticised.

EU Council President, Charles Michel, said the tragic scenes that emerged in Gaza due to the Israeli siege and failure to meet basic needs and the devastation caused by serious bombardment raise alarm bells in the international community. He added that the extraordinary EU summit coincided with an Israeli hospital attack on 17 October, which killed 500 people.

Even after this incident, the leaders of the EU institutions did not mention that Israel had violated international law and committed war crimes.

US, UK, France, Germany: all complicit in the war crimes committed by Israel - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor] 

US, UK, France, Germany: all complicit in the war crimes committed by Israel – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

At the regular EU leaders’ summit held in Brussels on 26-27 October, following the negotiations, a call was made to deliver humanitarian aid only through “humanitarian corridors and breaks in conflicts”.

The draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which was voted in the UN General Assembly on the night the summit ended, was supported by only eight countries out of 27 EU member countries: Belgium, Ireland, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

“The EU joins calls for immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors, including through increased capacity at border crossings and through a dedicated maritime route, so that humanitarian aid can safely reach the population of Gaza,” EU Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on 12 November.

War crimes, recognition of State of Palestine in Belgium’s agenda

In its statements after the 7 October Hamas attack and subsequent Israeli assault, Belgium criticised Hamas and voiced support for Israel.

On 26 October, Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, said that Israel has the right to defend itself if Hamas continues its attacks. “However, this can never be an excuse to cut off the needs necessary for people’s survival. The blockade of Gaza is unacceptable and the blockade must end,” he also said.

On Israel’s attacks on the Gaza refugee camps on 7 November, De Croo said: “What we are witnessing is no longer a proportionate response.”

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Caroline Gennez, Minister of Development Cooperation and of major cities, also demanded that the International Criminal Court (ICC) open an investigation into war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. Gennez said that Belgium is considering recognising the State of Palestine and that many EU member States and even large countries, including Spain, think like Belgium.

When asked to watch the “video about Hamas’ attacks” sent by Israel on 15 November, Eliane Tillieux, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Belgian Parliament, turned it down by saying: “Then it is necessary to show the massacres in Gaza as well.”

France with ups and downs

“We unconditionally support Israel’s right to defend itself,” said French President, Emmanuel Macron, in his first reaction to the 7 October attacks.

While top US officials travelled to Israel after the attacks started, Macron announced that he was not planning a visit “without concrete steps towards reconciliation.”

Four days after Macron’s contacts in Israel, France was among the few Western countries that said “yes” to the bill voted in the UN Security Council to ensure an emergency humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Macron met with Netanyahu as part of his “solidarity visit with Israel” on 24 October and said in a joint news conference: “France is ready to ensure that the international coalition against Daesh (ISIS), in which we are a part of our operations in Iraq and Syria, can also fight against Hamas.”

After Macron’s remarks, which came as a surprise globally, the Elysee Palace made a correction and claimed that Macron meant to be inspired by the experiences of the coalition.

The French leader hosted an international Gaza aid conference in Paris on 9 November and gave a message trying to show that he also thought about the situation of Palestinians. At the conference, about a month after 7 October, he uttered “ceasefire” for the first time, albeit in a weak voice.

Using a harsh tone towards Israel in his interview with the BBC on 11 November, Macron said: “Babies, women and elderly people are being bombed and killed. There is no justification or legitimacy for this. That’s why we call on Israel to stop.” He also asked the UK and the US to call for a ceasefire.

Unable to withstand the reactions from Israeli and Zionist circles after the interview, Macron called Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, and explained himself. According to the Israeli side, Macron said that he had no intention of blaming Israel and that he unconditionally supported the right to self-defence.

Norway is closer to recognising State of Palestine

The Norwegian government underlined Israel’s right to defend itself in the first days of the 7 October attack.

However, its attitude changed when Israel started killing thousands of Palestinians.

Norwegian Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, emphasised that Israel’s response to the Hamas attack was “disproportionate” according to international law.

The government presented a proposal in Parliament regarding “readiness” to recognise an independent Palestinian State. In the proposal, it said that the government called for “the unconditional recognition of an independent Palestinian State, considering its positive impact on the peace process, not subject to any final peace agreement.”

Ireland, Spain differ in stance among EU countries

The EU Commission decided to freeze development aid to the Palestinians two days after the 7 October attack. However, Luxembourg, Spain and Ireland opposed the decision as it was taken without consulting them.

On 18 November, the Irish government demanded that those responsible for the Israeli attack on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza be held accountable and emphasised the need for an immediate ceasefire.

Ireland subsequently maintained its traditional interest and humanitarian awareness of the Palestinian cause. Irish President, Michael Higgins, stressed that Israel violated international law with the blockade of Gaza. Likewise, Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, pointed out that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not start with the attacks on 7 October and drew attention to the Palestinians’ right to establish a State. The Irish government also gave consistent reactions to Israel’s attacks on refugee camps.

In Spain, the Socialist Workers’ Party leader and current Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said that the priority of the newly formed minority leftist coalition government will be to work to recognise the Palestinian State.

On the other hand, four of the 14 countries that voted “no” to the draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza at the UN General Assembly were EU members Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and Croatia. Eight EU members said “yes” to the call and 15 member states abstained.

Turkiye offers to be guarantor of Palestinian side for permanent peace

Turkiye has maintained its critical stance regarding both Israel’s policy towards Palestine and the situation in Gaza after the 7 October attack.

While Turkiye condemned the killing of civilians, regardless of its party or perpetrator, it brought to the agenda the proposal to establish a permanent solution to the Israel-Palestine issue and to establish a guarantor mechanism to preserve this possible solution.

In the guarantor mechanism, Turkiye submitted to international consultation a formula to make the peace permanent and prevent it from being disrupted through the guarantor countries.

After the UN Security Council became ineffective due to the veto powers of the US, UK and sometimes France, which protected Israel, Turkiye was one of the countries that contributed the most to bringing the issue to the agenda of the UN General Assembly.

While Turkiye took intense diplomatic initiatives with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and regional countries, it also issued harsh warnings to Western actors about their unconditional support for Israel.

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“I am speaking openly because we don’t owe anything to Israel. If we owed, we could not speak so openly. But those who owe to Israel cannot speak openly. We didn’t go through something like Holocaust because we respect human rights very much,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a joint news conference with German Prime Minister, Olaf Scholz, who is known for his unconditional support for Israel.

Reactions from Arab and Islamic countries

In the face of Israel’s attacks that devastated Gaza, many regional countries, especially Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia carried out diplomatic initiatives.

The perception of Israel’s intention to forcibly displace the Palestinian population and immigrate millions of people to neighbouring countries caused Egypt and Jordan, in particular, to voice their reactions at high pitches.

Both countries said that this issue was their “red line”.

In addition to its disapproval of Israeli attacks on Gaza, Qatar has also played an active role in the negotiations for the release of captives.

At the extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers in Jeddah on 18 October, Islamic countries emphasised that the Palestine issue is important for the entire Islamic world.

“In particular, we support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, such as self-determination, the return of Palestinian refugees, the right to independence, the concretisation of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital and based on the 1967 borders, as well as Palestine’s self-defence against Israeli aggression,” the statement said.

On 11 November, at the joint summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League, it was stated that Israel and no other regional country could achieve security and peace unless the Palestinian people are guaranteed security and peace and regained all their usurped rights, and that the continuation of Israel’s occupation would affect regional security.

At the summit, illegal Jewish settlers, who also committed armed violence against Palestinians, were described as “terrorists” and the US and the West were asked to cut off their unconditional support to Israel, which cost thousands of lives.

Reactions to Israel growing in Latin America

In Latin America, Colombian President, Gustavo Petro, decided to “suspend ties with Israel” following Israel’s decision to stop exporting security materials to Colombia on 16 October.  On 19 October, Petro said Israel’s barbarism against the Palestinian people far exceeds Hamas’s barbarism against the Israeli civilians.

Petro also announced that they will contribute to Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s call to file a lawsuit against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

On 7 November, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, lambasted Israel’s ongoing attacks in Gaza and said humanity must now stand up and say “stop” to Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people.

On 26 October, Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said the problem is that “it is no longer a war, it is a genocide”, since thousands of children who had nothing to do with the war were killed. “I really do not understand. The result will lead to the death of children and innocents. I don’t know how a person can endure a war that will start.”

Bolivia also cut off diplomatic relations with Israel, while the Central American country, Honduras, withdrew its ambassador from Israel.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.