The Rome-Jerusalem hotline. Italian officials have been following the outbreak of violence near the Gaza Strip over the weekend, as Hamas launched a bloody attack against Israel’s citizens and statehood. On Sunday, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spoke with her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing “the Italian government’s full solidarity [and] its closeness to the families of the victims, the hostages and the injured.”
- The Italian executive “will work with international partners to coordinate support. Italy stands by the Israeli people at this difficult time,” reads an official note from the PM’s office.
- President Sergio Mattarella also sent a message to President Isaac Herzog, expressing “the strongest and most convinced condemnation” of the “perfidious attack against Israel’s security.”
- The aggression “distances the prospect of a lasting peace” between Israelis and Palestinians, he added.
Ties are ironclad. PMs Meloni and Netanyahu had met in Rome this past March, vowing to usher in a “quantum leap” in Italian-Israeli cooperation amid a general levelling up of relations across sectors. The two, who share a personal connection, had promised to organise a government-to-government summit in the coming months.
- The Italian head of government and her party, which has a post-fascist heritage, have also been polishing their credentials by standing firmly by the Jewish community in Italy and taking steps to address antisemitism.
Calling Lebanon, too. On Monday, PM Meloni also spoke with her Lebanese counterpart Najib Mikati about the ongoing conflict. She said that Italy would continue contributing to Lebanon’s security and stability at this delicate juncture and called for a rapid de-escalation to avoid spillover effects that would bring about “incalculable consequences for the entire area.”
- Rome is a major contributor to the United Nations’s stabilisation operation in Lebanon, dubbed UNIFIL.
Antonio Tajani (and the Quint) get to work. On Sunday, the Italian Foreign Minister announced he would travel to Egypt, a historic mediator between Israeli authorities and Hamas, to promote de-escalation and negotiate a solution. “No one wants another wide-ranging war to break out,” he said while also emphasising Israel’s right to defend itself.
- On Monday. the Italian FM also announced he was working with allies within the Quint format (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy) to reduce the level of conflict and prevent it from spilling out across and beyond the Middle East.
- “We seek peace, but that does not mean accepting violence against the innocent. We have seen inadmissible acts of violence against the innocent; Hamas does not seem to want any kind of dialogue,” he added.
- “The situation is evolving. There are some concerns at the moment, but we are keeping the situation under control and not underestimating anything. We are trying to prevent further explosions, work through diplomacy and free our fellow citizens in Israel,” he told TRL.
Italy raises domestic security. Italian authorities are also taking precautions against a possible flare-up in extremist violence on the national territory. Analysts warn that Hamas’ attack could stir dormant jihadists into action (ranging from physical assaults to proselytism and propaganda). On Monday, police chief Vittorio Pisani asked public order and judicial officials nationwide to boost security measures around relevant objectives.
- The most immediate priorities are “Israeli, Jewish and Palestinian diplomatic, religious, cultural, economic and commercial objectives,” including synagogues, embassies and consulates in major cities.
- Beyond the physical places, intelligence and police forces are also monitoring the internet to intercept eventual danger signals.
- Meanwhile, authorities are looking at NGOs that sympathise with Palestinian jihadists. These include the Associazione benefica di solidarietà con il popolo palestinese (Odv), an NGO led by Mohammad Hannoun, who has been investigated multiple times for raising money for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
- In July, the Israeli Defence Minister asked that his assets be frozen, having linked them to Hamas.