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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Global reactions to attack on U.S. vary from sadness to celebration

Foreign leaders across the world expressed their condolences for those who died in Tuesday's terrorist attacks, while some Palestinians celebrated in the streets of West Bank cities. 




Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip cheered the attack, distributing candy and firing weapons in a show of glee over what they described as a retaliatory blow against U.S. cooperation with Israel. Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon fired weapons into the air in celebration.  




'The people here are gloating over the American grief,'' said Emad Salameh, a 29-year-old taxi driver in Gaza. 'Apache helicopters, tanks and all kinds of destructive weapons have been killing Palestinian infants and women. ... Palestinians have been crying and suffering, and now it is time for Americans to cry and suffer.'' 




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The outpouring among Arabs, many of whom regard the United States as a cause of violence that has claimed nearly 700 Palestinian lives in the past year, contrasted sharply with official condemnations issued by several Arab leaders. The Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, all denounced the attacks. 




Partly in sympathy, partly in relief, many Israelis said the long-standing political, military, personal and psychological bonds between the United States and Israel would grow tighter than ever.  




'I feel sad because now the Americans will be like us'scared, angry, not safe,'' said Ilanit Amsalem, 36, a teacher in Jerusalem. 'I always thought of the U.S. as some sort of a Disneyland, innocent, naive and childlike, a place that didn't have all the scars that we have. Now they'll be cynical like us and they'll start looking for revenge, like we do.'' 




The official Israeli reaction was to assume a defensive crouch nearly as broad as America's own, assuming that the coordinated attacks in the United States might presage attacks on the Jewish state. Israeli airspace was closed to all flights originating overseas unless they had Israeli security guards on board, as do flights on El Al, the national carrier. Israel evacuated its embassy and consulates in the United States, leaving only key personnel.  




The Air Force went on high alert for any unauthorized planes heading toward Israeli airspace. Extra security was added at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Israel, well rehearsed in public disasters, offered to send rescue teams to the United States. 




European leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac denounced the attacks.  




'This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today,'' Blair said. 'It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life, and we, the democracies of this world, are going to have to come together and fight it together.'' 




Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the terrorist actions. 




'On behalf of Russia, I am addressing the people of the U.S. I would like to say that we are with you. We fully and completely share and feel your pain. We support you,'' Putin said in a statement. 




The Vatican said Pope John Paul II 'has prayed to God for the eternal rest of the numerous victims and to give courage and comfort to their families.'' 




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