At least 33 people died in Gaza after 150 Israeli air raids hit the besieged enclave in one hour overnight.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian officials have called on the United Nations and fellow Muslim nations to step in to stop “apartheid” Israel from attacking Palestine while a top military commander has pledged Iran will stand by Palestinians.
The High Council of Human Rights of Iran – an entity under the Supreme National Security Council currently headed by judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and comprised of several ministers – has written a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take action on “genocidal acts” and “racial cleansing” being committed by Israel.
The letter on Sunday, seen by Al Jazeera, says silence, ambiguous statements, and those issued in support of Israel’s “right to defend itself” – as the United States has issued – on the situation unfolding in Gaza have perpetuated the decades-long conflict.
The council has called on the UN to recognise that Israel is committing “crimes against humanity and war crimes”, form a fact-finding commission, attract the attention of all its member states, and use its human rights mechanisms.
It said “the protection of the right of return of all displaced Palestinians around the world and then the protection of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people through a referendum” would be the best solution.
Israel’s latest bombardment of the Gaza Strip is now in its seventh consecutive day and has killed at least 192 people, including 58 children.
Israel has maintained it is defending itself against rockets fired by Hamas fighters – which Hamas has said were launched in response to an Israeli crackdown on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In remarks at an emergency virtual meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for action from the 57-member entity.
He said member states should devise an “institutionalised” legal and political campaign against the “apartheid Zionist regime” at regional and international levels.
He also called for a push to make the UN urgently convene an emergency session of the General Assembly to address the issue.
The UN Security Council is convening on Sunday. Washington had previously blocked a scheduled meeting on Friday.
“We are facing blatant and systemic violations of human rights, humanitarian law and international law,” Zarif told his peers at the virtual meeting, while also calling for a referendum that would be inclusive of all Palestinians, including those displaced and living as refugees.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al Saud also condemned “flagrant violations” of Palestinian rights in the meeting, and called on the international community to act urgently.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani raised the issue with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call on Sunday, telling him Iran and Turkey must band together as two major players in the region to urge the UN and the OIC to fight the “crimes of the Zionist regime”.
Erdogan reportedly told him the international community must offer a “strong and deterring response” and the Muslim world must act as one on the Palestinian issue.
Rouhani had made a similar point during a phone call earlier this week with Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, also welcoming Qatar’s efforts to stop the bloodshed.
Iran’s security chief Ali Shamkhani tweeted on Sunday that the “chain defeats” of the US in Afghanistan, and of Israel against the “resistance axis” are indicative of the failure of their policies.
“We’re ready to participate with the countries of the region in a mechanism to create collective security as an infrastructure for development and welfare of their nations,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force on Saturday held separate phone calls with Ismail Haniya, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, and Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad armed group.
General Ismail Qaani stressed Tehran’s support for Palestinians facing Israeli “crimes” and admired the “successful response of resistance forces against the violations of the Zionist enemy”.