SINGAPORE — It is possible to deplore how Palestinians have been treated over the years while still, unequivocally, condemning the terrorist attacks carried out in Israel over the weekend by Palestinian militant group Hamas, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday (Oct 12), he added that Singapore’s support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is well-known and has been stated repeatedly.
Mr Shanmugam’s comments came after the Oct 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war the next day.
“Hamas’ attack on Israel — attacking and massacring civilians is a massive terrorist attack,” he said.
“The kidnapping and unjustified murder of children — the acts of cruelty are shocking and horrifying. And this extreme violence must be condemned in clear, unequivocal terms. These atrocities cannot be justified by any rationale whatsoever, whether of fundamental problems or historical grievances.”
Last Saturday’s attack — reported to be the worst in Israel’s 75-year history — has seen a total of 1,200 people killed, according to Israeli forces.
In Gaza, officials reported more than 1,000 people killed in Israel’s sustained strikes on the Palestinian enclave since.
Asked how Israel should respond, Mr Shanmugam said: “We don’t control Israel’s response. But I think it’s fair to say that any response has to be consistent with international law and international rules of war. And you can see, several countries have made this point.”
Mr Shanmugam also said that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is evoking strong and divisive views across the world, including in Southeast Asia, but Singaporeans must not let these external events affect our “precious peace” and destabilise us.
“We condemn all acts of terrorism and wanton violence, but we must not let these events happening externally affect the internal situation within Singapore.”
Asked if increased security measures would be introduced at sensitive places such as mosques and synagogues here, Mr Shanmugam said that the Government’s security agencies were watching the situation closely.
He was unable to share the exact plans due to “operational reasons”, but said that patrols would be stepped up at some events and places.
“Emergency forces are always on alert to respond to incidents. Places that are possible targets have had their security re-assessed. And for places that are of higher risk, we are increasing security, and ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) has also stepped up measures.”
He added that this would be a period where “everyone has to be more alert and careful”, given that Singapore is an “attractive target”.
In a separate letter of condolence penned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Mr Netanyahu on Oct 8, Mr Lee said that he was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of so many Israeli lives” as a result of Hamas’ terrorist attacks.
“On behalf of the Government of Singapore, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Israel, especially the families of the victims, and wish the injured a speedy recovery.
“I am confident that Israel will remain strong and united to overcome the difficult challenges ahead.”