Minister: Israel-Palestine conflict spilling over into Estonian society must be avoided

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

According to Läänemets, there is a risk that the conflict between Israel and Palestine will spill over into Estonian society.

“As a result of the brutal terrorist attack by Hamas, the entire region has seen an escalation of the conflict, which in turn is also spreading to Western countries – in several countries, for example, an increase in attacks on persons and property motivated by anti-Semitism has already been observed. In order to ensure internal security and public order in Estonia, it is crucial to prevent and rule out all kinds of attacks and provocations against persons and property here, and our law enforcement agencies are actively working towards this goal,” the minister said.

Lauri Läänemets, the Estonian interior minister. Photo by the interior minister.
Lauri Läänemets, the Estonian interior minister. Photo by the interior minister.

According to Läänemets, the purpose of the letter is to publicly confirm the support of the Estonian state to the Jewish community and its commitment to protecting them and the objects important to them from any attacks.

“In general, Estonia’s role is to support its partners and allies in their efforts to prevent further escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it would inevitably spill over into European countries and undermine our internal security and stability. Domestically, we can only rule out the spilling over of the conflict here by ensuring the sense of security of every resident of Estonia, regardless of their religion or origin,” Läänemets said.

In the letter sent to the Estonian Jewish Community and the Estonian Jewish Congregation, the minister said there was no justification for crimes against humanity, and any attempt to justify terrorist crimes committed against the people of Israel only fuels anti-Semitism and the resulting attacks on Jewish communities.

People don’t distinguish between Palestinian rights and supporting Hamas

In the letter, Läänemets confirmed that ensuring the comprehensive security of Jewish people and objects and memorial sites important to the community is under heightened attention of the Estonian law enforcement agencies in the current situation.

Currently, the Jewish community in Estonia consists of about 2,000 people.

The Jewish community of Estonia celebrating in June 2016 the inauguration of their newly-written Sefer Torah scroll that is dedicated to the past, present and future generations of the Estonian Jews. Photo by Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS.

According to the Israeli ambassador to Vilnius, Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein, people do not distinguish between Palestinian rights and supporting Hamas.

“People don’t really distinguish between rights for Palestinian people and between supporting a terrorist organisation,” she said after a meeting of the Lithuanian parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, adding that Israel is fighting Hamas, not Palestinian people.

“By now we are 18 days into this war. 1,400 people were killed. (…) They were beheaded, they were butchered, they were burnt alive. All this is happening while more than 7,700 rockets have been launched to Israel from various directions,” the ambassador said, adding that Hamas is holding more than 220 people hostage.

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