Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran say Israel has only itself to blame for Hamas attacks
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran appeared to blame Israel for its escalating conflict with Hamas on Saturday.
The Palestinian militant group launched a mass attack on Israeli forces and settlements, killing at least 250 people in Israel and 232 in Gaza early Saturday, according to Israeli local media and the Palestinian government.
While leaders in the U.S. and Europe quickly denounced the attack and gave support for Israel, the three Middle Eastern nations criticized the country over its treatment of Palestinians.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is closely following the developments of the unprecedented situation between a number of Palestinian factions and the Israeli occupation forces, which has resulted in a high level of violence on several fronts there,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The Kingdom recalls its repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continued occupation, and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities,” the statement continues.
The condemnation comes as both the Israeli and Saudi governments have attempted to normalize relations in recent years, at the encouragement of the U.S.
A senior Iranian government advisor explicitly endorsed Hamas in the conflict, the most direct support for the militant group from any government official globally.
“We congratulate the Palestinian fighters,” advisor Yahya Rahim Safavi said, according to state media via Reuters. “We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem.”
Iran state media showed video of parliament members chanting in support of Hamas on Saturday, saying “Death to Israel” and “Palestine is victorious, Israel will be destroyed”.
Iran has funded and supplied Hamas for years as part of its decades-long conflict with Israel.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry also blamed Israel for the violence.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds Israel alone responsible for the current escalation due to this ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, the latest of which is the repeated raids on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque under of the protection of Israeli police,” the ministry said in a statement.
Violence erupted at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in April, a holy place for the Muslim faith. In multiple days of fighting, Israeli police raided the mosque and arrested dozens of worshipers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the conflict a “war” in a public address early Saturday.
The U.S. has vowed to support Israel, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying the government will ensure the country “has what it needs to defend itself.”
Updated 4:03 p.m.