Tensions in the Middle East have caused alarm across the world, with leaders weighing in on the deadly conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Israeli army has launched hundreds of air strikes on the Gaza Strip since Monday, while Palestinians have launched more than 1,000 rockets.
The escalation has seen at least 56 Palestinians in Gaza – including 14 children – and six Israelis die in a matter of days, and hundreds wounded, in the most intense flare-up since the seven-week 2014 Israeli war on Gaza.
Here are some reactions:
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday reiterated his urging for a halt to violence between Israel and the Palestinians in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The secretary reiterated his call on all parties to de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence,” said a State Department statement.
“The secretary emphasised the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security.”
Blinken said earlier that he had instructed Hady Amr, the deputy secretary of state for Israel and Palestinian affairs, to travel immediately to the region.
“Serious concern was expressed about the continuing clashes and the growing number of people killed and wounded,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that Putin had “called on the parties to de-escalate tensions and peacefully resolve the emerging issues”.
Meanwhile, Sergei Vershinin, a Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, called on Israel to “immediately” stop all settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, RIA news agency reported.
Vershinin also said that Moscow called for the “status quo of Jerusalem’s sacred sites” to be respected, RIA reported.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to “step back from the brink”, calling for both sides to “show restraint”.
“The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions,” he said on Twitter.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the international community should “give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson” over its conduct towards the Palestinians.
Erdogan made the comment during a phone call with Putin on Wednesday, Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate said.
The statement said Erdogan stressed the need for “the international community to give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson” and pressed for the UN Security Council to rapidly intervene with “determined and clear messages” to Israel.
The statement said Erdogan suggested to Putin that an international protection force to shield the Palestinians should be considered.
European Council President Charles Michel called on Israelis and Palestinians to halt fighting and avoid civilian casualties, after speaking with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
“Very worried by the recent upsurge of violence and indiscriminate targeting. Priority should be de-escalation and prevention of the loss of innocent civilian lives on both sides,” Michel said on Twitter on Wednesday.
The chief prosecutor of The Hague-based International Criminal Court voiced concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians and said “crimes” may have been committed.
“I note with great concern the escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in and around Gaza, and the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute [which founded the ICC],” Fatou Bensouda said on Twitter on Wednesday.
— Int'l Criminal Court (@IntlCrimCourt) May 12, 2021
Israel faced heavy criticism over the bombing of residential buildings in Gaza during the 2014 war, among several tactics that are now the subject of an investigation by the ICC into possible war crimes. Israel is not a member of the court and has rejected the probe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday said her government “condemns these incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli cities in the strongest terms”, saying they “could not be justified”.
“Israel has the right to self-defence against these attacks,” he added.
Seibert noted that both Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens had been killed in the barrage of rockets in recent days by Hamas and “allied extremist groups”.
“Their goal is to arbitrarily and indiscriminately kill people,” he said.
The Italian foreign minister said he and his German counterpart want an immediate end to the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, after they held talks on Wednesday.
“We strongly request all the parties to immediately take measures aimed at de-escalation and to exercise the greatest restraint,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
China’s special envoy on the Middle East, Zhai Jun, on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” over escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israel and urged all parties to exercise restraint to avoid further casualties.
In a meeting with Arab envoys and the chief representative of the Arab League in China, Zhai said Beijing would continue to push the UN Security Council to take action on the situation in East Jerusalem as soon as possible, according to a foreign ministry statement.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Israel and reiterated support for Palestinians.
The pan-Islamic body based in the Saudi city of Jeddah said it “condemns in the strongest terms the repeated attacks by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people,” in a statement released on Tuesday after an emergency session.
It also denounced “the Israeli occupation forces’ continuation of their colonial programmes – building settlements, attempting to confiscate Palestinian properties, forceful eviction of Palestinians from their land”.
Pakistan has condemned Israel’s actions and called for Muslim nations to stand by the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter, saying: “We stand with Gaza and Palestine.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, meanwhile, urged Muslim nations to unite over Israel’s strikes on Palestinian civilian areas.
Protesters are expected to hold a small anti-Israel rally later today in the southern city of Karachi.