Israel response to Hamas attack disproportionate: Norway

Norway's prime minister Jonas Gahr Store

Norway's prime minister on Sunday said that the Israeli army's response to the deadly Hamas attack was disproportionate and denounced a "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border on 7 October in the deadliest attack in Israel's history, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 230 others, according to Israeli officials.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says the retaliatory Israeli bombardment has killed more than 8,000 people, mainly civilians and half of them children.

"International law stipulates that it (the reaction) must be proportionate. Civilians must be taken into account, and humanitarian law is very clear on this. I think this limit has been largely exceeded," prime minister Jonas Gahr Store said on NRK public radio.

"Almost half of the thousands of people killed are children," he added.
"Israel has the right to defend itself, and I recognise that it is very difficult to defend against attacks from an area as densely populated as Gaza," Store said.

"Rockets are still being fired from Gaza into Israel, and we condemn this," he added.

Norway's foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, said on the Norwegian TV2 channel that the country was "ready to assume responsibilities in Middle East peace negotiations".

"Norway is ready if we are asked," he said.

Norway was involved in the secret negotiations that led to the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993.

Norway on Friday voted in favour of a non-binding UN resolution calling for an "immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities".

Sweden, Denmark and Finland all abstained from the vote.

The resolution received 120 votes in favour, including from France and Spain, and 14 votes against, including the United States and Israel.

Forty-five members abstained from the vote.

"We are friends of Israel and we condemn the attack carried out by Hamas three weeks ago. We also call for the hostages to be released, but we must speak out," Store said.

"The situation is catastrophic and I think that it clearly violates what we call the rules of war or humanitarian law," he added.