In response to the major events in Israel in recent days, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a statement in which it assures the Jewish state of its support.
‘Hungary has been deeply shocked to learn that terrorists have again fired hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory in recent days, specifically targeting civilians.’
‘We condemn all forms of terrorism in the strongest possible terms, we recognise Israel’s right to self-defence and we express our sincere sympathy to the government and people of Israel in the face of this new grave threat,’ the statement said.
On 3 May, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) launched a series of extensive air strikes against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza after the terrorist organisation fired several rockets at Israel in response to the death of one of its leaders in an Israeli prison during a hunger strike. During Operation Shield and Arrow, which ran from 9 to 13 May, Israel carried out 422 targeted strikes, killing 33 people in Gaza, including 6 PIJ commanders. The terror group fired 1,469 rockets and mortar shells toward Israeli civil communities over five days. 437 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system, the rest either fell onto uninhabited areas or misfired and did not make it out of Gaza.
Despite the Israeli defence system achieving a 90 per cent success rate, two people were reported to have died in Israel during the rocket attack. A ceasefire was finally brokered by Egypt on 13 May, and although a few more rockets from Gaza were fired subsequently, there was no Israeli response.
The recent conflict also indirectly affected Hungarian–Israeli diplomatic contacts. Chief of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás was scheduled to visit Israel on 15 May to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and address the Israeli Council on Foreign Relations, but he cancelled his trip citing the security situation in Israel. The minister’s visit will be rescheduled to an unannounced date.
Hungary has stood by Israel on several occasions in similar conflicts in recent years when terrorist organisations have attacked Israel, recognising the Jewish state’s right to self-defence. Hungary has also vetoed several EU resolutions when it considered them to be unilateral statements on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In 2021, during a similar conflict between Hamas and Israel, Hungary did not join the EU Common Position on the conflict. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó explained Hungary’s decision at the time:
‘I have a general problem with these European statements on Israel. They are usually pretty biased, pretty much unbalanced. They do not put into consideration the security concerns of Israel and Israeli people…the efforts Israelis make to have a stable and secure Middle-East.’