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Norway calls Israel response ‘disproportionate’ in latest remarks from a NATO nation

UPI
An armed Israeli woman soldier looks at the posters of some of the 229 Israelis held hostage by Hamas inside the Gaza Strip in a nightly vigil held outside a sports stadium on Sunday. The vigil has portraits of all the hostages arranged in a terrace and will be lit up each night until the hostages are released. Photo by Jim Hollander/UPI

Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store called Israel's response to the attack by the Hamas militia earlier this month "disproportionate" in what marks the latest of such remarks from a NATO member.

While Israel is not a member of the alliance, it is among the closest allies of United States -- a NATO founding member -- posing diplomatic challenges for those in the alliance.

Store, beginning his remarks, said Israel had suffered a "bestial terrorist attack" which Norway has repeatedly condemned while calling for Hamas to release hostages.

"We've underlined Israel's right to defend itself. We recognize that it is demanding to fight Hamas in areas as densely populated as Gaza, where there are over two million people and half of them are children and young people," Store said in his rebuke of Israel.

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"At the same time, we have been completely clear to Israel that it must happen in line with the rules of the international law of war."

He called Israel's increase of aggressions "concerning" and noted that Norway has 200 civilians in Gaza, including 100 children, at risk of being killed by Israeli attacks.

"Norway is asking for an immediate ceasefire," Store said. "I am pleased that a large majority of the countries in the world have passed a resolution at the U.N. on ceasefire and the receiving of emergency aid. This cannot be allowed to continue."

Hussein Al-Sheikh, the director-general for the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the internationally recognized government of the state of Palestine, met Sunday with German Ambassador Deike Potzel, another NATO ally.

Al-Sheikh said Potzel has "stressed the need to stop the humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza and to calm down aggression against Palestinians.

"Her Excellency Potzel stressed the rejection of the killing of civilians on both sides, and her country's position in support of a political path that guarantees security, calm and stability in the region on the basis of the two-state solution in accordance with international legitimacy," he said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has been among the most supportive of Palestinians, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chastising Israel for bombing of Gaza and stating Hamas is "fighting to protect its land and citizens."

Greece has warned Israel that its war against Hamas will lead to a surge of undocumented migrants, a major issue for the nation that has seen an influx of Syrian refugees in recent years. Greece and Turkey have been at odds in the past over Europe's refugee crisis.

In the Iberian peninsula, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called for a cease-fire, urged for humanitarian aid, and gone as far as to demand an Israel-Palestine peace summit.

"We must involve the entire international community to find a definitive solution that allows the coexistence of two States, Israel and Palestine, in peace and security," Sanchez said.

Even the foreign ministry in France, a nation that has long dealt with claims of Islamophobia, has called on the Israeli authorities "to take immediate measures to protect the Palestinian population."

Thousands have continued to protest in support of Palestine even after France banned such protests, making them illegal, earlier this month.

And Belgium -- a founding member of NATO, which was almost responsible for the administration of the Palestine Mandate before the creation of Israel -- announced after the war broke out that it would not suspend aid to Palestinians though has leaned toward Israel in the conflict, condemning Hamas and urging for the release of hostages.

Meanwhile, one of the United States' primary adversaries -- Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi -- has stated that Israel has "crossed red lines."

"Zionist regime's crimes have crossed the red lines, which may force everyone to take action. Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel," Raisi said Sunday. "The U.S. sent messages to the Axis of Resistance but received a clear response on the battlefield."