World powers call for de-escalation after Israel clashes

Israeli troops are seen during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the city center of the West Bank city of Hebron, 12 May 2021. [Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA/EFE]

Calls grew on Wednesday (12 May) for a de-escalation of violence after intense hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians that have left at least 65 dead and hundreds injured.

The Israeli army has launched hundreds of air strikes on the Gaza Strip since Monday, while Palestinian militants have launched more than 1,000 rockets in some of the worst violence in seven years.

35 killed in Gaza, 5 in Israel, as violence escalates

Hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday (12 May), with at least 35 killed in Gaza and five in Israel in the most intensive aerial exchanges for years.

Calls for calm emerged from around the world, while others voiced support for the warring parties. Here is a roundup of reactions:

Russia, Turkey

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to halt fighting in a call with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said the world needed to give Israel a “strong” lesson.

“Serious concern was expressed about the continuing clashes and the growing number of people killed and wounded,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin had “called on the parties to de-escalate tensions and peacefully resolve the emerging issues”, the statement added.


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.


Germany said Israel had a “right to self-defence” against deadly rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

“The German government condemns these incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli cities in the strongest terms,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday.

“Israel has the right to self-defence against these attacks.”

United States

The United States urged both Israel and the Palestinians to avoid “deeply lamentable” civilian deaths, calling for “calm” after days of violence.

“Israel does have a right to defend itself. At the same time reports of civilian deaths are something that we regret and would like to come to a stop,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday.

“We don’t want to see provocations. The provocations we have seen have resulted in a deeply lamentable loss of life,” he said.

“We continue to call for calm, continue to call on all sides to de-escalate and to exercise restraint in their actions.”


After speaking with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, European Council chief Charles Michel called on Israelis and Palestinians to focus on “de-escalation and prevention of the loss of innocent civilian lives on both sides”.

A statement from the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the “indiscriminate launching of rockets from Hamas and other groups towards Israeli civilians is unacceptable”.

Although he affirmed Israeli’s “legitimate need to protect its civilian population,” Borrell stressed that the response “needs to be proportionate” and that “everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict”.


The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court expressed concern that “crimes” might 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 Wednesday.


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 “condemns in the strongest terms the repeated attacks by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people”, in a statement released 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”.

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