Israel's response 'will show it is a democracy', says von der Leyen

The way Israel responds to Hamas' attack on the country "will show that it is a democracy," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday during a visit to Israel.

Together with European Parliament president Roberta Metsola, von der Leyen visited Kfar Azza on Friday, the kibbutz in southern Israel where around 100 people were killed and dozens more kidnapped in Hamas attacks last week.

“Let me also be very clear that Hamas alone is responsible for what is happening”

Von der Leyen made a statement after her visit alongside Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "What I saw and heard is breaking my heart," she said. "This is the most heinous assault against Jews since the Holocaust."

“We must call by their name the atrocities committed by Hamas. This is terrorism. This is an act of war,” she said. “Europe stands with Israel. And Israel has a right to defend itself.”

“Let me also be very clear that Hamas alone is responsible for what is happening,” von der Leyen said. “Hamas' acts have nothing to do with the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people."

"Hamas' despicable actions are the hallmark of terrorists. And I know that how Israel responds will show that it is a democracy," she said.


Ursula von der Leyen during a tribute to the victims of the Hamas-organised attacks in Israel at the European Parliament in Brussels on 11 October 2023 © Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

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