Israeli Ambassador to Hungary: Hamas’s attack on Israel was a “watershed” moment

Hadas-Handelsman thanked Hungary’s parliament for its support and asked for international support for Israel’s self-defense.

Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Yakov Hadas-Handelsman told parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Monday that Hamas’s attack on Israel was a “watershed” moment for the Middle Eastern country.

Hadas-Handelsman thanked Hungary’s parliament for its support and asked for international support for Israel’s self-defense. What happened on October 7 was not a terrorist attack but a “pogrom”, and even Holocaust survivors say they had not experienced such actions during the Holocaust, the ambassador said, adding that Hamas’s terrorists had tortured people and murdered children. The attack was total destruction and a “barbaric act”, he said, adding that Hamas was as big a threat as the Islamic State terrorist group, with neither distinguishing between nationalities. Hadas-Handelsman said Israel had been caught in a surprise attack. He said putting an end to this “barbarism” was not just in the interest of Israel, but also that of the international community, arguing that Hamas’s actions were being celebrated in multiple parts of the world. Israel wants to end Hamas’s political and military rule in the Gaza Strip in a way that has minimal effect on those it does not concern, he said, adding that this was why Israel had called on civilians to leave northern Gaza. He said Israel aimed to rescue all of the hostages held by Hamas. Meanwhile, the country is prepared to have to defend itself on two fronts in the event that a second one opens up from Lebanon, he said. The ambassador also said that while the reasons behind Hamas’s attack were unknown, it was possible Hamas had thought that Israel had been weakened and was divided by the ongoing internal social dispute, giving them a good opportunity to strike. One other possibility, he said, was that Iran was the one behind the attack because of its concerns over the United States taking a leadership role in the process to normalise the situation in the Middle East, and the significant changes this could bring to the region. Some also interpret the attack as Iran and Russia working together to create a more difficult situation in the Middle East with the aim of diverting attention from Ukraine, he said.

Ruling Fidesz’s Zsolt Németh, the head of the committee, said there was broad consensus on the condemnation of Hamas’s actions and the recognition of Israel’s right to defend itself. Hamas’s attack had been aimed at the destruction of Israel, so the world cannot be indifferent in this situation, he said, stressing the importance of supporting the existence of the state of Israel. Németh also said there were no pro-Hamas demonstrations in Hungary, and that the Jewish community could count on the Hungarian state’s protection. Ágnes Vadai of the leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said her party had submitted a draft resolution aimed at parliament designating Hamas as a terrorist organisation in line with a resolution adopted by the Council of the European Union. Lőrinc Nacsa of the co-ruling Christian Democrats said the events had “shocked” everyone. Hadas-Handelsman said in response to Nacsa that the pro-Hamas rallies held across several cities were the exact reason why they did not think that the attack was solely Israel’s problem. Opposition Jobbik’s Koloman Brenner said the reason why Hamas’s actions could be considered “barbaric” was because it demonstrated the group’s brutality and had been part of a pre-planned strategy. Zita Gurmai of the Socialist Party said they condemned Hamas’s attack but stressed the need to take civilians into consideration.