U.S. ambassador expresses support for Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas

November 1, 2023

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas on Wednesday, denouncing the militant group as “amongst the worst violators of human rights.”

Ambassador Philip Goldberg made the remark at a concert in Seoul organized by the Israeli Embassy to call for the immediate release of all Israeli hostages without any preconditions.

Hamas is “exhibiting cruelty unlike anything we’ve seen in recent times, except for possibly (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria),” Goldberg said.

“I know people like to throw around the term ‘international law,’ but these are crimes against humanity,” he added. “They need to be answered, and they are being answered in Israel’s right to self-defense.”

Goldberg pointed out that Hamas has shown themselves to be among the worst violators of human rights committing “murders of innocent people in some of the worst atrocities.”

“Unspeakable crimes were committed on Oct. 7, and one lingering crime (is) the 240 hostages that are being held against their will, in the tunnels, other places, I imagine, in Gaza, and we need to bring them home,” he said. “And we’re doing all we can to accomplish that.”

Since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, armed tension quickly escalated in the region, causing thousands of civilian casualties from both the Israeli and Palestinian side.

In his opening remarks, Israeli Ambassador to South Korea Akiva Tor also stressed the Jewish state’s right to self-defense.

“Self-defense is more than a right, it is a moral imperative,” he said, quoting a phrase in the Talmud that says, “If one comes to kill you, rise to kill them first.”

The concert was also attended by German Ambassador to South Korea Georg Schmidt and Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the ruling People Power Party, as well as the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Romania and Portugal.