Opposition leader Yair Lapid said Wednesday night he was “deeply saddened and shocked” by the violence at the US Capitol after supporters of US President Donald Trump, egged on by the president himself, stormed the building.
“My thoughts are with all my friends in Washington tonight. We hope to see order restored and the transition of power completed,” Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party, wrote on Twitter in the first reaction of an Israeli politician to the scenes in Washington.
“America needs to go back to being a role model for democracies across the world,” Lapid said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the images being broadcast from Washington “hurt the heart of anyone who believes in democracy.”
“I never believed I would see such images from the world’s most powerful democracy,” Gantz said. “This is proof that before political rivalry, we must agree on the rules of the game: maintaining the rule of law, respect for the democratic process and respectful dialogue. I hope this horrific event will come to an end soon, without any casualties.”
There was no response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, several hours after the events began.
The head of the US Republican Party in Israel condemned the violence.
“I’m ashamed tonight. I don’t like seeing these pictures, this has nothing to do with the Republican Party and our values,” Mark Zell told Army Radio.
Zell said that he still supports Trump and agrees with the US president’s unfounded claim that the election was stolen. “What is happening today doesn’t reflect his actions,” Zell said of Trump.
The House of Representatives and the Senate went into recess as protesters disrupted a session called to certify the Electoral College votes from the November 3 presidential election.
Footage posted online showed clashes inside the Congressional building. Staffers and officials were told to hide in their rooms, according to CNN.
Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police at one point to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda.
Speaking at the rally before his supporters stormed the Capitol, Trump accused fellow Republicans who have refused to endorse his baseless claims of election fraud as “weak.”
“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Trump said. “You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Hours into the chaotic scenes, Trump called for the protesters to “go home” but did not condemn their actions.
“I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt,” Trump said.
He added: “This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people… so go home. We love you. You’re very special.”