Deputy minister: We support Israel in defending itself against barbaric attack

Senior officials in Prague have strongly condemned the Hamas attack on Israel that began on Saturday. President Petr Pavel called it a reprehensible terrorist act, while Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Czechia had always stood and will stand fully with Israel. For more on the Czech response, I spoke to Deputy Foreign Minister Jiří Kozák.

Deputy Foreign Minister Jiří Kozák | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“The Czech government and all the Czech people have made it clear that this is an unacceptable terrorist attack against the State of Israel and the people of Israel, and we are all observing what’s going on.

“The pictures are just unbelievable. This is not a political act, this is a terrorist act.”

Members of the Israeli government were due to take part in a joint governmental meeting in Prague on Monday and obviously that was cancelled. But is there anything that Czechia is doing, or can do, to help Israel at this time?

“Our minister, Minister Lipavský, has been in contact with his Israeli counterpart and they are talking about what we can do.

“Now it is very important for the friends of Israel to make it clear that we understand the situation and that we support Israel in defending its own people and its own territory against this barbaric attack.”

Fortunately for Czechia there were no Czechs to be among those killed. But what is your ministry recommending to Czechs who are thinking perhaps of travelling to that part of the world?

“We have been in touch with those who are in Israel, and we’ve been recommending to them to stay safe, to observe the recommendations made by the Israel government.

“At the moments there are no flights to Israel anyway, so I think that everybody understands that the situation is very difficult at the moment and that any trip to Israel should be really thought through before being taken.”

What about travel to other countries in the region? Do you consider it more dangerous now, or simply dangerous?

Illustrative photo: b1-foto,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

“At the moment we don’t have any indication that travelling to other countries in the region should be more dangerous. But of course the situation is developing. The attack happened just two days ago, so everybody has to be careful and look for information about the most recent developments.

“But at the moment we don’t have any indications that there would be any problems, apart from the attack, which seems to be the only one, which happened yesterday in Alexandria in Egypt, against Israeli citizens.”

One Israeli official has described this attack as their “9/11”. There’s a lot of speculation that this conflict could spread further in the region and of course this comes at a time when we already have the war on Ukraine. Are you concerned about a possible increase, or even major increase, in international instability following this attack?

Illustrative photo: BruceEmmerling,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

“We have to hope and wait to see what happens in other countries around Israel, hope that nobody will attempt to engage in this conflict between Israel and the terrorists from Hamas.

“But of course we will be observing the situation, and looking for any indications that there could be any spread of this violence.

“Of course there are indications that other countries were engaged in supporting Hamas – financially, militarily, with training – and all this has to be scrutinised, and we will see how the situation develops.

“However, it is clear that there is a certain higher level of instability in the region at the moment.”

Do you think there is any credibility in the speculation that Russia is ultimately connected with this?

“There is no direct evidence. So we have to wait for further investigations. All this is only speculation.”