ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that the Pentagon will work to ensure that Israel “has what it needs” to defend itself, amid an outpouring of international condemnation of Hamas over the terror group’s surprise assault on the Jewish state.
The unequivocal American statement—the third U.S. comment within an hour—followed a multi-front Palestinian terror attack which left at least 100 Israelis dead and 900 wounded, and came as U.S. President Joe Biden was expected to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians,” said Austin in an early morning statement.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson “unequivocally” condemned the “unprovoked” attacks.
“We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israelis lives lost in these attacks. There is never any justification for terrorism,” Watson wrote in a statement released Saturday morning.
She noted that U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had spoken to Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, adding that they will remain in close contact.
Earlier in the morning, the acting U.S. Ambassador to Israel also condemned the Hamas assault.
“Sickened by the images coming out of southern Israel of dead and wounded civilians at the hands of terrorists from Gaza. The United States stands with Israel,” U.S. Charge d’Affaires Stephanie L. Hallett tweeted.
Condemnation of the attacks poured in from Europe, as well, which is typically less supportive of Israel.
The head of the European Union’s executive commission, Urusla von der Leyen, tweeted that the attack “is terrorism in its most despicable form.”
“Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks,” she added.
The British, French, German and Dutch leaders also condemned the attacks as well.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “shocked” by the attacks. “Israel has an absolute right to defend itself,” he tweeted.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the terrorist attacks “shock us deeply,” and that “Germany stands with Israel.”
French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that he “firmly” condemns the terror attacks and expressed his “full solidarity” with the Israeli victims, their families and loved ones.
“Appalling images from Israel. The violence must stop; Israel has every right to defend itself,” wrote Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Saturday that Israel has the right to defend itself from invasion by Hamas terrorists.
Ukraine “strongly condemns the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israel, including rocket attacks against the civilian population in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” the country’s foreign ministry tweeted.
“We express our support for Israel in its right to defend itself and its people,” the statement added.
The Czech Republic and Spain also strongly condemned the attacks. Netanyahu had been scheduled to travel to Prague on Sunday along with senior government ministers.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
Edited by ISAAC OKOTH NYAMUNGU and Newsdesk Manager