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Here’s How World Leaders Have Reacted to the Israel-Hamas War

9 minute read

Global leaders have been watching tension in the Middle East escalate after Palestinian militant group Hamas unleashed an attack on Israel near the Gaza strip on Oct. 7, launching rockets in the air and sending fighters to attack on land.

At least 1,300 people died as a result of the attack, with more than 120 reportedly taken hostage by Hamas, according to Israeli authorities.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country is at war, and told global leaders that a "long, difficult" campaign against Hamas will take place. “The Israel Defense Forces will act immediately to destroy Hamas’ capabilities,” said Netanyahu a day after the attack. “We will cripple them mercilessly and avenge this black day they have brought upon Israel and its citizens.”

In response, Israel has unleashed a bombing campaign on Gaza, cutting off power, water and fuel until hostages are released. More than 2,000 people have died in Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said, and resources are dwindling, creating a humanitarian crisis.

Just before midnight Thursday, Israel warned more than one million people in northern Gaza to evacuate south within 24 hours as it prepares for “significant military operations,” an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said. A ground invasion by Israel appears increasingly likely.

Below, find out what the world leaders have said about the attack on Israel. 

U.S. President Joe Biden 

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the attack, referring to it as an “appalling assault against Israel.” In a statement uploaded to the official White House website, he said: "Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering."

The U.S. has continuously spoken about the country’s commitment to Israel’s security, and has been strong allies with Israel for decades. Hamas was designated as a terrorist group by the U.S in 1997.

At an event Friday, Biden said he spoke with the families of American hostages and said he is committed to rescuing them. He also said it’s his priority to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and directed his teams to work with governments in the Middle East and the United Nations.

“We can’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do Hamas,” Biden said. “And they’re suffering as a result as well.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel. These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this. Civilian life must be protected."

On Friday, Trudeau posted on X that he spoke with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank, to condemn Hamas’ attack and stressed the importance of protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarian access to Palestinians.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted on X: "As the barbarity of today’s atrocities becomes clearer, we stand unequivocally with Israel. This attack by Hamas is cowardly and depraved. We have expressed our full solidarity to [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu and will work with international partners in the next 24 hours to co-ordinate support." He later returned to X to share a video statement about his solidarity.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly supported the idea that Israel has the “right to defend itself” and that the UK will always support that endeavor.

Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf 

Scotland’s leader unequivocally condemned Hamas’ “abhorrent terrorist actions” and said every country has the right to protect itself, but also spoke against “collective punishment” of civilians in Gaza in a letter to the U.K.’s Foreign Secretary this week. 

Collective punishment – imposing sanctions, harassment or other punishments on an entire group for crimes committed by part of that group – is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Yousaf’s wife is Palestinian, and his parents-in-law and other family members are trapped in Gaza, according to social media videos and interviews given by the couple. 

Yousaf asked the U.K. government to pressure Israel to put in place an immediate ceasefire to allow civilians to safely leave through Gaza’s border with Egypt and open a humanitarian aid corridor. He also met separately with Israeli and Palestinian community leaders in Scotland. 

Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  

Ireland’s leader spoke out in statements on X this week against Hamas’ attack, condemning attacks on civilians and urging an immediate stop to fighting. 

In an interview with Ireland’s public broadcaster, Varadkar said Israel is under threat and does “have a right to defend themselves, but they don't have the right to breach international humanitarian law.” He expressed concern about what is happening in Gaza and said cutting off power, fuel and water amounts to collective punishment. 

Iranian Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani

Iran’s foreign ministry said that the Hamas group acted in self defense when it attacked Israel, and vocalized their support for the group.

“This operation ... is the spontaneous movement of resistance groups and Palestine's oppressed people in defense of their inalienable rights and their natural reaction to the Zionists' warmongering and provocative policies,” Iranian spokesperson Nasser Kanaani is quoted as saying, according to Reuters.

Kanaani reportedly added that Israel’s supporters are responsible for the “violence and killing against Palestinians” and asked Islamic countries to support them.

On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, according to the Associated Press.

China President Xi Jinping

China’s initial statement from a foreign ministry spokesperson, released on its government website a day after Hamas’ attack, fell short of direct condemnation. 

“China is deeply concerned over the current escalation of tensions and violence between Palestine and Israel. We call on relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and immediately end the hostilities to protect civilians and avoid further deterioration of the situation,” part of the statement read.

In response to pressure from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Xi released a stronger statement Monday condemning “all violence and attacks on civilians,” Foreign Policy reported.  

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi 

Modi posted on X that he was “deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.”

On Oct. 10, Modi added that he had spoken with Netanyahu, reiterated support for Israel and condemned terrorism.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is “closely following” the situation between Palestinian and Israeli forces, and called for “an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides."

Saudi Arabia also called for the international community to try and create a two-state solution to build peace in the area.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz 

The Chancellor of Germany called news of the attacks “horrifying” and said he was “deeply shocked” by the violence. “Germany condemns these attacks by Hamas and stands by Israel,” he said on X on Oct. 7.

On Sunday, Scholz announced that he was increasing the security of Israeli and Jewish temples, schools and monuments in the country and spoke out against reported German celebrations of the attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron 

The President of France similarly denounced the attacks, and shared France’s support of the Israeli people and their security on the day of the attack. "I have spoken to President Herzog and Prime Minister Netanyahu. I condemn the attacks carried out from Gaza on Israel, its soldiers and its people," he said. "France stands in solidarity with Israel and the Israelis, committed to their security and their right to defend themselves."

Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Officials from Qatar have expressed deep concern over the conflict. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds Israel alone responsible for the current escalation due to its ongoing violence of the rights of the Palestinian people, the latest of which is the repeated raids on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli police,” they wrote in a public statement.

State officials urged the international community to ask Israel to stop “its blatant violation of international law.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky

In a statement posted on X, Zelensky wrote: "Today, the entire world saw horrifying videos from Israel. Terrorists humiliate women and men, detain even the elderly, and show no mercy. In the face of such a terrorist strike, everyone who values life must stand in solidarity."

Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida strongly condemned the attacks on Israel. In a statement posted to X, he wrote: "Hamas and other Palestinian militants attacked Israel from Gaza yesterday. Japan strongly condemns the attacks which severely harmed innocent civilians. I express my condolences to the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathies to the injured."

Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez 

In a statement posted on X a week after the attack, Sánchez condemned Hamas, demanded the release of hostages and defended international law that he said does not endorse the evacuation of Palestinians from Gaza. He said the conflict would only be resolved when the two states of Israel and Palestine are recognized.

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