The Estonian parliament issues statement in support of Israel

The Estonian parliament has condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas and the war launched by Hamas against Israel.

In the statement, 78 members of the parliament (out of 101) point out that “there can be no justification for the murder of civilians, the taking of hostages and attacks on civilian objects” and underline that, according to the Nuremberg Charter, “the planning, preparation or waging of war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances is a crime against peace”.

The parliament expressed its condolences to Israel, its people and the families of the victims of the terrorist attack. Parliament also reaffirmed that “Israel has the right and the duty to defend itself until the end of the Hamas terrorist attacks, the release of all hostages and the arrest of the planners and perpetrators of the 7 October massacre, so that terror against Israel and its people does not happen again”.

A house in Israeli kibbutz after the terrorist attack by Hamas on 7 October 2023. Screenshot from a news report by Channel 4 (UK).

Expressing their hope that “Israel will achieve rapid success in its military and anti-terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip”, the MPs note that it is “of the utmost importance for the future of Israel and for peace in the region to avoid civilian casualties in the ongoing operations and to comply with general international humanitarian law”.

The statement condemns all acts of violence against civilians, “regardless of who has committed them and what justifications are given” – and calls on the Israeli government and all parties to the conflict to do all they can to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The parliament also expresses its concern about the anti-Semitic attacks and demonstrations that have taken place in Europe, the Middle East and Russia in recent months, and declares that “Estonia will not tolerate any justification of terrorism, manifestations of anti-Semitism or incitement to hatred on the basis of religion”.

A protester at the “In Solidarity with Palestine” protest at Tallinn Freedom Square on 5 October 2023, holding a placard “May god have mercy on Saddam Hussein”. Photo from the In Solidarity with Palestine Facebook page.

The Estonian parliament “expresses the hope that Israel’s military self-defence actions against Hamas will achieve the goal to which it has repeatedly committed itself in international treaties: the creation of an environment free of pressure, repression and violence for peace negotiations between the legitimate representatives of the State of Israel and the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

Hamas attacked Israel

Hamas, officially the Islamic Resistance Movement, is a Sunni Islamist political and militant organisation that has governed the Gaza Strip in the Palestinian territories since 2007.

On 7 October, thousands of Hamas terrorists breached the Gaza-Israel barrier and attacked nearby Israeli communities and military bases. At least 1,400 Israelis were killed, including a massacre at a music festival in which at least 260 people were killed. More than 200 Israeli civilians, including women and children, were taken hostage in Gaza.

The invasion was followed by an Israeli counter-offensive, and a day later Israel formally declared war on Hamas. According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, more than 18,000 people have been killed in Israel’s war against the terrorist group, including more than 7,000 children.

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal aera in Gaza City on 9 October 2023, in retaliation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas. Photo by Naaman Omar, shared under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED licence.

Estonia sees rise in anti-Semitism

Estonia saw a pro-Israel demonstration in October and two pro-Palestinian protests in November. Various public and cultural figures have also made pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian public statements.

There was also an increase in anti-Semitic acts in Estonia. On 7 November, anti-Jewish leaflets were distributed on car windscreens in the centre of Tallinn; two days earlier, five demonstrators were arrested for chanting Hamas slogans at a protest against Israel’s war against the terrorist group in Gaza. It later emerged that a member of the Muslim Brotherhood had also taken part in the pro-Palestinian demonstration in Tallinn’s Freedom Square.

In a letter sent to representatives of the Estonian Jewish community on 25 October, the country’s interior minister, Lauri Läänemets, reiterated that the state is doing everything possible to ensure that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has escalated again because of terrorist attacks by Hamas, does not spill over into Estonian society and is not expressed in anti-Semitic hatred, provocations or attacks on persons and property.

The Tallinn synagogue, the centre of the Jewish community life in the Estonian capital.

There are approximately 2,000 Jews in Estonia, although the number of people of mixed Estonian-Jewish descent is higher.

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