Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s “flagrant violations” of Palestinian rights and called on the international community to act urgently to put an end to deadly military operations in the Gaza Strip.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud made the televised remarks on Sunday at the start of an emergency virtual meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) following a week of intense Israeli bombings of Gaza – an enclave of two million people – which has remained under an air, land and sea blockade imposed by Israel.
Israel said it launched air strikes in the Palestinian territory after Hamas fighters in Gaza fired rockets into its territory. Hamas action came in response to an Israeli crackdown on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – by Israeli forces.
The minister condemned what he called the violation of the sanctity of Islamic holy sites and “forcible” eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it in 1980 and has since built settlements – considered illegal under international law – for Jews.
Palestinians have accused Israel of ethnic cleansing to achieve demographic change.
Al Saud called on the international community to carry out its responsibility toward ending this “dangerous escalation”, to act urgently to halt military operations and to revive peace negotiations based on a two-state solution.
Also speaking at the start of the OIC meeting on Sunday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki of the Palestinian Authority, which administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank, decried what he called Israel’s “cowardly attacks”.
“The rise of the Palestinian people has made it clear that Jerusalem is a red line,” Malki said, adding “our people will not be exhausted by Israel’s killing machine”.
“We need to tell Allah that we will resist to the last day,” he said. “We are facing a long-term occupation. That’s the base of the problem. Crimes are committed against the Palestinians without consequences.”
Malki’s Palestinian Authority has no control over the Gaza Strip, where Hamas seized power in 2007.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu took a similarly hard line at the meeting.
“Israel alone is responsible for the recent escalation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza,” Cavusoglu said. “Our warnings to Israel last week went unheeded.”
‘Right to confront aggression’
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander stressed Tehran’s support for Palestinians facing Israeli “crimes” in Jerusalem and Gaza, state media reported.
Brigadier-General Ismail Qaani talked to the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, and the secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad armed group, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, said state new agency IRNA.
Qaani told Haniyeh Iran “stands alongside the nation of Palestine” and condemned Israel for acting “against all international laws and conventions”, it reported.
In a separate call, Qaani told al-Nakhalah that Tehran supports “the Palestinians’ right to confront the aggression and crimes of the Zionist enemy”.
He also “praised the development of Palestinian resistance and its capabilities in defending the people of Palestine”.
Pre-dawn Israeli attacks in the centre of Gaza City on Sunday brought the death toll in Gaza to 181, including 52 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.
Hamas began its rocket assault on Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for an Israeli crackdown on Palestinian worshippers during the holy month of Ramadan.