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Putin Tells Netanyahu, Stop Killing Civilians, Offers Help To De-escalate

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke today by phone for 50 minutes. According to Putin’s office: “The discussion focused on the critical situation in the Palestine-Israel conflict zone, in particular, the disastrous humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his principled position of rejecting and condemning terrorism in all its manifestations. At the same time, it is of the essence to avoid such grave consequences for the civilian population while countering terrorist threats. Russia is ready to provide all possible assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilians and de-escalate the conflict.”

It is not clear that Putin’s offer was heard or processed by Netanyahu. The office of Israel’s Prime Minister released a statement saying that the “prime minister expressed his annoyance over anti-Israel stances by Russian representatives at the United Nations and other fora,” adding that he “expressed sharp criticism over the dangerous cooperation between Russia and Iran.”

Otherwise, the Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu called on Putin to put pressure on the Red Cross, which Israel has accused of making little effort to try to get access to the hostages. (Apparently, Netanyahu does not think that Israel’s bombing campaign and artillery fire, which has already killed 130 UN employees and several hostages, presents a problem for the Red Cross’s efforts.) TOI also pointed out that “Putin has repeatedly criticized the military campaign, called for aid to Gaza and urged a ceasefire with a UN Security Council resolution…. Moscow has backed Israel’s right to defend itself but has blasted Israel for employing cruel methods in its campaign against” Hamas.