Meloni ‘worried’, urges dialogue to avoid escalation

Premier Giorgia Meloni said on Friday she is worried about the situation that is unfolding in the Middle East following last Saturday’s surprise air, land and sea attack by Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas on southern and central Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli response and insisted that it is important to prevent the conflict from escalating further.

“I confess that I am quite worried by the scenario, we need to avoid the conflict escalating,” said Meloni during a visit to the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

This “is a very delicate phase during which it is necessary to maintain the highest possible level of dialogue with allies and actors who could be involved” in supporting de-escalation, she added.

Meloni also reiterated her concern about possible copy-cat terrorist attacks in Italy and elsewhere following the recent terrorist violence, adding that she had been “extremely shocked that Hamas militiamen would want to film such atrocious scenes”.

There is no particular level of alert in Italy, she said, adding that “one of the very first things done on the day of the Hamas attacks was to strengthen security in sensitive places for Jewish communities”.

“Our security services have also been alerted” to the risk of emulation and “assessments need to be made concerning checks on those who enter and arrive from outside, in particular via the Balkan route” leading from Turkey through Greece to northern Europe, she continued.

“It is one of the elements that we are working on continuously, it is one of the reasons why we have cut short this visit today,” said Meloni, referring to the fact that her mission to Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo will only last a day.

Separately, Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier Antonio Tajani said during a mission to Israel on Friday that he was “convinced” that Israel’s reaction to the Hamas attacks would be “proportionate” and that it will do everything possible to spare the Palestinian civilian population living in Gaza.

“We are here to show our solidarity with Israel, hoping that we can have peace and that Israel’s reaction does not cause too much suffering among the civilian population,” said Tajani during a visit to southern Israel.

“But Israel has the right to defend itself and I am convinced that it will have a proportionate reaction and will do everything (possible) to strike only Hamas,” he added.

“Hamas is like Isis, like the SS, like the Gestapo, they do the same things, they are terrorists, murderers, and they are using the Palestinian people as a shield, which is not right,” said Tajani.

“We must prevent more innocent deaths,” he added.

On Friday afternoon the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said so far 1,799 people had been killed and 6,388 people injured in retaliatory strikes by Israel following the Hamas attacks.

On Thursday evening, Israeli sources said so far 1,300 Israeli citizens had been killed and 3,300 injured in Hamas attacks.

Meanwhile the United Nations has reported that 423,000 Palestinians living in the enclave have now been forced to flee their homes Israel has also told over a million of Gaza’s population to get out of the territory ahead of its ground assault in retaliation for Saturday’s attack on Israel.

Tajani insisted that saving the hostages – including, possibly, three Italo-Israeli citizens – taken by Hamas is a priority for the Italian government.

“They are not soldiers and that is why it is important to have corridors,” he added. “We will do our best to rescue these innocent people,” said Tajani.

“There are many initiatives to save human lives, but we’ll have to see if Hamas responds positively: it seems to me that it has already responded negatively to the Egyptian proposal (for humanitarian corridors) and that is the demonstration that Hamas wants war and wants to use the Palestinian people as human shields for its criminal activities,” Tajani said later on Friday during a press conference in Tel Aviv.

The foreign minister also insisted that Hezbollah militants should stay within Lebanon in the Israel-Hamas war.

“I think it is right for Hezbollah to stay within the borders of Lebanon, because an attack from the south of Lebanon would be a terrible initiative destined to inflame the Middle East and we don’t want that,” he said.

The ‘Party of God’ has said that it is “fully prepared” to join Hamas when the time is right.