World reacts in shock and horror to attacks on Israel

Europe and US offer strong support for Jerusalem and its right to self-defense, while Muslim and Arab nations call for restraint by both sides, and Iran celebrates

Israeli rescue teams evacuate a wounded person by helicopter near the southern city of Sderot on October 7, 2023 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Israeli rescue teams evacuate a wounded person by helicopter near the southern city of Sderot on October 7, 2023 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Countries around the world have condemned an unprecedented Palestinian terror assault on Israel by land, sea and air that left at least 100 dead and hundreds wounded on Saturday, according to Israeli medics.

“We are at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, vowing severe retaliation after the surprise assault by the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Alongside the statements of support and condemnation by Israel’s allies, Muslim and Arab countries called for calm by “all parties” while Iran celebrated the attacks.

Here is a roundup of the reactions:

United States

The United States condemned the attack by “Hamas terrorists” against Israel.

“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,” a White House statement said, adding that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was in close contact with Israeli officials.

“We stand firmly with the government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks,” it added.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon will work in the coming days “to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.”

“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,” Austin said in a statement.


The UN’s human rights chief Volker Turk said: “I call for an immediate stop to the violence, and appeal to all sides and key countries in the region to deescalate to avoid further bloodshed.”

He said he was “deeply concerned at reports that Israeli civilians have been taken hostage.”

European Union

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said “I unequivocally condemn the attack carried out by Hamas terrorists against Israel.”

Smoke billows from a power station in Ashkelon on October 7, 2023, as barrages of rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave into Israeli territory (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

“It is terrorism in its most despicable form. Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks,” she said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “this horrific violence must stop immediately. Terrorism and violence solve nothing. The EU expresses its solidarity with Israel in these difficult moments.”

He added: “News of civilians taken as hostages in their homes or to Gaza are appalling. This is against international law. Hostages must be released immediately.”


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country is fending off a Russian invasion, said Israel had an “indisputable” right to defend itself.

“Terror is always a crime, not just against one country or specific victims, but against humanity as a whole,” he said.


France expressed “full solidarity with Israel and the victims” and underscored “its absolute rejection of terrorism and its commitment to Israel’s security.”

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in Hebrew in support of Israel.

“I spoke with President Herzog and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” he wrote. “I condemn the terror attacks from Gaza against Israel, its soldiers and citizens.”

“France stands by Israel and Israelis, supports their security and their right to defend themselves.”


German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Israel “has our full solidarity” and “the right, guaranteed by international law, to defend itself against terrorism.”


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “shocked” by the attacks.

“Israel has an absolute right to defend itself,” he said.


Spain expressed shock over the “indiscriminate violence.”

“We strongly condemn the extremely serious terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel,” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares wrote on X, formerly Twitter.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country stood “in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.”

“Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel,” Modi said.


A senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the attack, calling it a “proud operation.”

“We support this operation,” Yahya Rahim Safavi said, quoted by ISNA news agency.

Safavi expressed backing for the Palestinian terrorists “until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem.”

At a parliament session on Saturday, Iranian lawmakers chanted “Down with Israel,” “Down with America” and “Welcome Palestine,” according to a video published by the Tasnim news agency.

Palestinians celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis southern Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said: “The Kingdom calls for an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, protection of civilians, and self-control.”

“The Kingdom is reminded of its repeated warnings of the dangers of an explosive situation as a result of the continued occupation and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights,” it added.


Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry stressed the “need for de-escalation between Palestinians, Israelis,” in a tweet.


Qatar’s Foreign Ministry in a statement expressed its “deep concern” over the developments and called on all parties “to de-escalate and exercise maximum restraint.”

The ministry said it “holds Israel solely responsible for the ongoing escalation due to its ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

It called on the international community to “compel Israel to stop its flagrant violation of international law” and to “prevent these events from being used as a pretext to ignite a new asymmetric war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”


Russia’s foreign ministry called for an “immediate ceasefire.”

“We call on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to immediately cease fire, renounce violence, show the necessary restraint and — with the help of the international community — establish a negotiation process aimed at establishing a comprehensive, lasting and long-awaited peace,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Israel and Palestinians to avoid further escalation.

A member of the fire brigade puts out the blaze following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Ashkelon in southern Israel, on October 7, 2023. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

“We invite all parties to act reasonably and to stay away from impulsive steps that raise tensions,” said Erdogan, who strongly supports the Palestinian cause.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “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.”

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted “as Canada wakes up to unspeakable images of terror, pain and war we must remain shoulder to shoulder with Israel as it responds to, and defends itself from, these criminal and cowardly acts of terror.”

“To friends in Israel and around the world, I hope you know that today and always, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you,” he said.


In Yemen, Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa expressed their support for “the heroic jihadist operation.”

In a statement published on the website of the Houthi-controlled SABA news agency, the Iran-aligned militant group said the attack “revealed the weakness, fragility and impotence” of Israel.

It added that this operation “is a battle of dignity, pride, and defense.”

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