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‘I stand with Israel’: Charlie Baker wades into conflict as calls for cease-fire intensify

Governor Charlie BakerNancy Lane/Pool

Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday said he “stands with Israel” in its ongoing conflict with Hamas, putting the two-term Republican at odds with leading Massachusetts Democrats who have increasingly rebuked the Jewish state amid the deadly fighting and demanded a cease-fire.

Baker, who rarely weighs in on national or international politics unprompted, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that he “prays” the 10-day-old conflict ends soon. Israeli airstrikes reportedly have killed more than 220 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including dozens of children. Hamas rocket attacks have left 12 people dead in Israel.

“I stand with Israel in defense of peace and security, and pray for a swift end to the bloodshed,” Baker wrote on his official Twitter account.


Baker’s definitive support of Israel, however, came in contrast to Massachusetts’ other leading politicians — all Democrats — who have lobbed sharp criticisms at Israel as the fighting has dragged on.

Representative Ayanna Pressley last week criticized the United States for sending Israel billions of dollars in aid that she said is “used to demolish Palestinian homes, imprison Palestinian children, and displace Palestinian families.”

After an Israeli airstrike leveled a building that housed the Associated Press and other media outlets on Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for a cease-fire. Earlier, she denounced the removal of longtime Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, as “abhorrent and unacceptable.”

And Senator Edward Markey, after initially facing progressive backlash for saying “all sides must protect innocent civilians,” said last week that Israel “must seek” a cease-fire. He called it “unconscionable” for Israel to “undertake an overwhelming ground attack that would impact defenseless Palestinian families.”

“Israel wields a disproportionate military power, and it has a responsibility to take steps to de-escalate this crisis,” Markey said Friday.


In the long-contested region, the recent escalation of violence began in the wake of Israeli efforts to force Palestinians out of parts of the city.

During Ramadan, a holy month in Islam, Israeli police raided Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in the world for Muslims, setting off a skirmish in which Muslim worshipers threw rocks and police shot tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades. More than 330 Palestinians and at least 21 police officers were wounded.

In response, Hamas, a militant group that controls Gaza, fired rockets at Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, injuring six civilians, according to the Israeli military. Israeli military then responded with airstrikes into Gaza.

President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin on Wednesday that he expected “a significant deescalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” the White House said. It marked a shift after Biden had previously avoided pressing Israel more directly and publicly to stop the conflict with Hamas’s militant wing.

But Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with a fierce military offensive, saying he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”

Baker visited Israel in 2016, the first and only overseas trade mission he’s taken during his six-plus years in office. He reportedly met with Netanyahu for 40 minutes during the trip, during which officials sought to encourage Israeli companies seeking their first outpost in the United States to pick Massachusetts.

Emma Platoff of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was included.


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.