NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said Israel has the "right to defend itself" but added that any response was expected to be "proportionate."
On the most recent developments in ongoing clashes between Palestinian group Hamas and Israel, Stoltenberg said it was "important as this conflict continues to do whatever is possible to prevent the loss of innocent civilian lives."
In a briefing after the first day of a defense ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, he said members of the alliance had the capability to address the situation in the Middle East, adding that several of them had "provided support intelligence, all the types of support, to Israel."
"NATO allies, we have the capability, the strength to address different challenges at the same time. We don't have the luxury of choosing only one threat and one challenge," he said, asked whether the current clashes, which erupted early on Saturday, would shift international focus from Ukraine.
"I think it was also an important message that any nation or organization hostile to Israel should not try to utilize the situation we now see. And we also see that for instance, the US has increased his military presence in the region to also send a clear message of deterrence to prevent escalation this conflict," he said.
The conflict began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air, which Hamas said was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.
In response to Hamas' actions, the Israeli military launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip. Israel's response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has reeled under a crippling siege since 2007.
More than 2,300 people have been killed in the current bout of violence, including at least 1,100 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.