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Italian Defence Minister offers takes on Israel’s response

Minister Crosetto believes Israel’s reasons for countering Hamas’ assault are existential, though he warned against violence spiralling out of control. UN peacekeeping forces will jointly decide whether they should leave Lebanon, he said, commending Egypt’s leadership and touching on anti-Western pushes

Defence Minister Crosetto defends merit of Israeli offensive. “We have witnessed the ferocity, the ruthlessness, the lack of humanity demonstrated by Hamas: if Israel does not have a strong reaction, proportionate to such an offence, it would call into question its very future. Israel needs to show the world that hates it that it has a deterrence capability; otherwise, it is dead.”

  • That’s what the Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto told La Repubblica, stressing that the Israeli-Hamas conflict is existential and no mere matter of political opposition.
  • Owing to his institutional position, as he stressed, he also pointed out that an unproportionate Israeli reaction “may provoke another,” starting a spiral of violence with no foreseeable end.

Eyes on Lebanon. On Sunday, near the country’s southern border with Israel, a (deflected) rocket struck near the Naqoura mission headquarters of UNIFIL – the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission, where Italy is among the top contributors with roughly 1,200 military personnel. “It was not a direct attack on the base,” said Minister Crosetto.

  • Asked if the attack would cause him to consider withdrawing the Italian soldiers, he replied that it was up to all the participating international forces to decide. “Either we all stay, or we all leave,” he said.
  • Rome is working to prevent the crisis from spreading in the region, a risk the minister believes to be “absolutely real: there is interest in throwing gasoline on the fire. Not only in Iran, not only in the Arab countries but also in the anti-Ukrainian front, among the enemies of the West.”

Mind Palestinian lives. On Monday, Egypt – which borders the Gaza Strip – agreed to open the Rafah crossing to let humanitarian aid in. Meanwhile, Israel itself has opened two crossings in the north, urging Gazan civilians to flee the city. “Palestinians who want to flee Gaza need to be put in a position to do so,” remarked Minister Crosetto, noting that they’re being impeded by Hamas – whose leaders have called onto them to remain in their homes, but who themselves “are not in the Strip but safe in 5-star hotels in other countries.”

  • Cairo is demonstrating “its leadership in the Arab world,” and that Israel’s war is only against Hamas, he said, calling onto the international community to take charge of this matter – and blasting the UN as an “increasingly self-serving” and “latent” organisation.

And watch out for unity-breakers. The minister also touched on the apparent alignment between Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Elly Schlein, head of the Democratic Party, Italy’s main opposition force. Still, the chances of a common position among parties are rather dim. “Knowing a part of Italian politics, I fear that there will be those who will speculate on this crisis as well,” he said.

  • “I am not talking about those who have considered Palestine’s reasons legitimate for years,” he specified, adding he’s afraid of the resurgence of “those who will try to paint the West as evil, to pass off the idea that our alliance system of the last 70 years is wrong, that it is not true that there is a fundamentalist part of the Arab world that is not interested in dialogue but only in fighting us.”

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