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Letter from Athens: Greece’s Dangerous Dilemma Over Israel-Hamas Deadly Conflict

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ swift support for Israel after Hamas terrorists raids killed some 1,400 civilians – babies and children tortured to death – is now being followed by worry that Israeli reprisals are too brutal and making its allies nervous.

The Palestinians – 2.375 million of whom are confined to the Gaza Strip – have long had legitimate demands for statehood, but have undermined them since the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

That saw eight members of the Palestinian militant organization Black September infiltrate the Olympic village, kill two members of the Israeli Olympic team, and take nine others hostage, who later were killed during a rescue attempt.

Black September called the operation ‘Iqrit and Biram’ after two Palestinian Christian villages whose inhabitants were expelled by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

And it’s been going on ever since, the Israelis confining Palestinians in The Gaza Strip and West Bank and building settlements in those territories for Jewish settlers, decades of fury and rage mounting up to the Oct. 7 Hamas raids in Israel.

The nature of the slaughter of Israelis, including children and people at an outdoor festival, brought outrage in much of the world but celebration in those areas that back the Palestinians and Hamas at any cost.

That includes Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who supports the terrorists – not what you’d expect from a NATO member that allows an American military presence and wants U.S. F-16s, but he usually gets what he wants.

Greece is in a tough spot because there was no choice but to back Israel because any legitimate demands are lost when you start killing babies and children – but now Israeli airstrikes are doing that in Gaza.

The numbers can’t be verified and you certainly can’t trust anything that Hamas says because it wants a permanent state of war with Israel, and its ‘brave soldiers’ duck behind women and children after killing sprees.

But it was said that more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes and soldiers entering Gaza – including more than 3,600 children – and both sides can put up posters of the dead to gain sympathy and support.

The war has divided people around the world, with demonstrations for both sides in the United States, and in Greece one survey showed Palestinians had 30 percent support and Israel only 10 percent although another was more even.

Greece’s support for Israel also raised the fear of terrorist attacks in Greece, particularly against Jewish sites, but these types of killers don’t care who the victims are, and like to target mass gatherings, so Athens is at risk.

With the war ongoing, the Israeli onslaught mounting the toll of dead Palestinians, and Israel apparently safe from a counter-attack, the attention has been focused on Gaza and victims who aren’t Jewish.

In an interview with  POLITICO’s Power Play podcast, Mitsotakis said Israel’s allies must speak “hard truths” about its “aggressive” military response against Hamas, European countries growing anxious over the retaliation’s ferocity.

“While we recognize that Israel has the right to defend itself, how it does so actually matters, and it matters considerably,” Mitsotakis said, echoing fears that have reached into the U.S. Senate where Democrats want answers.

Mitsotakis said other EU countries have also shown “an increased concern over the plight of innocent civilians and about the horrifying scenes that came out of Gaza,” which showed the rising toll.

“As Israel continues with this very, very aggressive military campaign, yes, there will be an increased concern about the proportionality of the Israeli response,” Mitsotakis said about unrelenting strikes.

“I’m speaking as a friend of Israel,” he added. “And I think that sometimes friends have to speak hard truths to friends,” he said, although Israel shows no signs of backing off an unrelenting assault in the hunt for terrorists and hostages.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent John Psaropoulos, one of the best journalists in Greece, wrote about how a once pro-Palestinian sentiment in the country has shifted toward Israel, especially now under Mitsotakis with business to be had.

He noted how Mitsotakis in Tel Aviv two weeks after the Hamas attacks said that, “I come here not just as an ally but as a true friend … Greece, from the very first moment, supported the right of Israel to defend itself in line with international law,” giving backing.

Unlike some other European leaders who demonstrated similar solidarity, Mitsotakis did not also pay a courtesy visit to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Fatah Palestinian movement, the report said.

While people are passionate and even turning violent, two-thirds of Greeks want neutrality in the war that has seen murderous levels of fury out of proportion – as Mitsotakis said is happening with Israel’s response.

“There’s battle lines being drawn and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong,” the U.S. music group Buffalo Springfield sang in ‘For What it’s Worth‘ –  “singing songs and a-carrying signs, most saying ‘Hooray for our side.’”

That was recorded in 1966 in the heat and division the Vietnam War brought that split Americans as much as Hamas-Israel has, the same seen in Greece, although there haven’t been violent demonstrations.

Mitsotakis said Greece could take part in a humanitarian aid corridor to help innocent Palestinians who don’t want war, just as those in Israel – and Greece – don’t either.



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