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Israel has ‘gone too far’ with military response to Hamas attack: Vivian Balakrishnan

Vivian Balakrishnan says Israel has ‘gone too far’ with military response

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has called out Israel for going “too far” with its military response to Hamas’ attack.

Dr Balakrishnan also called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which will alleviate the suffering of civilians and allow aid to reach them quickly.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore on YouTube

The Minister, however, pointed out that it is not constructive to sever diplomatic ties with Israel, as it will neither change the situation on the ground nor influence Israel to change its policy.

Vivian Balakrishnan says Israel has ‘gone too far’ with military response & calls for ceasefire

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking in Parliament during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Committee of Supply (COS) debate on Thursday (29 Feb).

Echoing what he previously stated in a parliamentary speech, he said the nation condemned the 7 Oct attack by Hamas as an act of terrorism and recognised Israel’s right to self-defence. This was similar to how Singapore would assert the same right, if the country ever faced the same situation.

However, he stressed that Israel’s military response has “gone too far”.

“The catastrophic situation in Gaza demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to alleviate the unbearable suffering of the civilian victims and to enable humanitarian assistance to reach them, immediately,” he said.

The humanitarian crisis is “appalling”, he added, saying that there have been far too many innocent civilians lost or maimed.

Responding to calls for Singapore to sever diplomatic ties with Israel, Dr Balakrishnan said such actions are “not constructive”:

Whatever we say or do diplomatically will not change the situation on the ground. Nor… will it influence Israel to suddenly change its policy or will it necessarily immediately reduce the suffering of the Palestinians.

Adding that the country is not taking sides, Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore manages its international relations by “remaining engaged” with the international community and maintaining ties with as many countries “that are willing to maintain ties”.


Pursuing such a strategy is “in our national interest”, explained the Foreign Affairs Minister.

Dr Balakrishnan also sought Singaporeans’ understanding that the country’s foreign policy “cannot be driven one way or the other by sentiments or affinity to any external group”.

Instead, Singapore’s foreign policy must be based on its core interest. Singapore must also act consistently in accordance with the principles that safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security, he noted.

Dr Balakrishnan also pointed out that Singaporean non-government organisations and the Government have raised more than S$10 million for relief operations in Gaza so far.

It’s precisely these strong ties with partners in the Middle East that have allowed the country to collaborate with them on the delivery of aid, he added.

Singapore will be donating a third tranche of aid for Gaza through Jordan.

The country had extended two tranches of humanitarian aid to Gaza via Egypt last November.

Sim Ann & Maliki Osman deliver similar speeches during COS debate

Dr Balakrishnan isn’t the only MFA representative to speak out against Israel during the ministry’s COS debate.

Speaking in Mandarin, Senior Ministry of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development Sim Ann said Israel’s military response has resulted in “mass civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.

Stressing that women and children are among the worst affected by the crisis, Ms Sim said it’s no exaggeration to say that Singaporeans keeping a close eye on the situation have had difficulties sleeping and eating with peace of mind.

She repeated Dr Vivian’s condemnation of Israel’s military response and called for parties to reach a two-state solution consistent with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Dr Maliki Osman, the Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, delivered a similar speech in Malay.

He also pointed out that the Israel-Hamas issue has a “deeper impact” on Muslims all around the world, including those in Singapore.

Dr Maliki added that religious leaders have given “guidance and space” for the local Muslim community to express their emotions.

Muslims in Singapore are also urged to hope for “understanding and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine in a way that champions peace, and not destruction”.

Also read: Group Demands Stronger Stance Against Israel’s Actions, Marches To Istana With Letters For PM

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Featured image adapted from Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore on YouTube.

Jay Lo

Jay has an unhealthy obsession with Pokemon. He thinks he's qualified enough to be a member of the Elite 4.

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