Islamic nations slam Israel over Gaza attacks

16 May 2021, 17:54

Gaza
Palestinians Israel. Picture: PA

The past week has seen some of the worst violence across Israel and the Palestinian territory since the 2014 war in Gaza.

A league of Muslim nations has called on Israel to halt attacks killing Palestinian civilians amid heavy fighting between it and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, even as fissures between countries over their recognition of Israel emerged.

A statement by the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) closely resembled previous ones issued by the Saudi-based group, including support for the call made over decades for Palestinians to have their own nation with East Jerusalem as its capital.

But recent normalisation deals between Israel and some nations in the group – as well as their own concerns about Hamas – saw diplomats criticise each other instead at points.

A Palestinian man prays as he stands in the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City
A Palestinian man prays as he stands in the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The massacre of Palestinian children today follows the purported normalisation.

“This criminal and genocidal regime has once again proven that friendly gestures only aggravate its atrocities.”

The past week has seen some of the worst violence across Israel and the Palestinian territory since the 2014 war in Gaza, with militants launching missiles and Israel pounding the blockaded coastal strip, home to two million people, with heavy fire.

At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, with 1,230 people wounded. Eight people in Israel have been killed.

The OIC statement called on Israel to respect Muslims’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and stop settlers from forcibly evicting Palestinian families from their homes.

“The plight of the Palestinian people is the bleeding wound of the Islamic world today,” Afghan foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar said.

But the video conference meeting saw some delegates turn their fire toward countries like Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates instead, Muslim nations which reached normalisation deals to recognise Israel last year.

A Palestinian man stands in the rubble of a destroyed house in Gaza City
The remains of Gaza City house impacted by the Israeli air assault (Khalil Hamra/AP)

While Egypt and Jordan reached peace deals earlier, supporters of the Palestinians criticised the new countries for recognising Israel before the formation of an independent Palestinian state.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu joined Mr Zarif in criticising the normalisation, although Israel maintains diplomatic ties with Ankara.

“There are a few who have lost their moral compass and voiced support for Israel,” he said.

“If there are half-hearted statements within our own family, how could we criticise others? Who will take our words seriously?”

Mr Zarif also accused Israel of “genocide and crimes against humanity”.

“Make no mistake: Israel only understand the language of resistance and the people of Palestine are fully entitled to their right to defend themselves,” he added.

Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, did not take part in the meeting, which came before consultations at the United Nations over the crisis.

Reactions to the fighting have been similarly mixed across the Arabian Peninsula.

By Press Association