Arab and Islamic nations demand investigation into Israel war crimes in Gaza

Ahram Online , Saturday 11 Nov 2023

Leaders of Arabic and Muslim countries at a joint summit in Saudi Arabia took turns to condemn Israel’s war on Gaza and call for an international investigation of war crimes in what the Palestinian president described as "an unparalleled genocidal war".

Arab League OIC
A family group portrait shows Arab and Islamic leaders at the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation held in Riyadh, on November 11, 2023.


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened the summit in Riyadh on Saturday by noting that Saudi Arabia "holds the occupation (Israeli) authorities responsible for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of carrying out "an unparalleled war of extermination against our Palestinian people (in Gaza)" and that the occupying state has "crossed all red lines."

He also condemned Israel's "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians stressing that "we will pursue war criminals before international courts, and the United States bears responsibility for any failure to reach a solution."

King Abdullah II of Jordan reiterated the message, adding that "Israel's prevention of water, food, and medicine from entering Gaza is a war crime and the injustice to which the Palestinians are exposed did not begin on 7 October but rather began seven decades ago."

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for his part accused Israel of carrying out "collective punishment" against the people of Gaza that cannot be justified as self-defence or under any other pretext.

El-Sisi, demanding a halt to "inhumane practices" against Gaza Palestinians, said Israeli "violations should be investigated internationally".

Similarly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that "Israel's crimes must be examined by the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court."

"Israel is trying to avenge the events of October 7 by killing innocent people, children and women, and we cannot accept that," Erdogan said.

"We must make efforts to hold Israel accountable for its humanitarian crimes and initiate the necessary investigation," he emphasized.

Similarly, Indonesian President Joko Widodo condemned how Israel "kills civilians and imposes collective punishment on Gaza."

"We demand international investigation committees in the Gaza Strip," Widodo added.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar observed that "the international community has failed to bear its legal and ethical responsibilities," and called on the UN to send a team to investigate Israel's hospital bombings.

"Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip must stop," he said. "We must not remain at the limits of denunciation and denial, but rather we must take deterrent steps to stop the aggression."

In the same vein, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi accused Israel of "using internationally prohibited bombs" against women and children, noting that "Gaza is witnessing the worst crimes committed in history."

"Israel is violating international laws in the Gaza Strip," Raisi stressed. "We want to take a decisive, historic decision regarding what is happening in the Palestinian territories." 

Crown Prince of Kuwait Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also condemned Israel's crimes stressing any practice of collective punishment reveals "double standards" and "cannot be justified".

"We call on the international community to do its part and protect the Palestinian people," Sheikh Meshaal said.

Similarly, Iraqi President Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid concurred and rejected Israel's "policy of collective punishment."

Head of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohammed Al-Menfi urged Muslim countries to implement "binding decisions" against Israeli crimes.

"We face a real challenge and a responsibility before history to stop Israel’s persistence in its crimes," Al-Menfi added.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani said in a short statement that "Israel is carrying out genocide in front of the world."

The Commissioner-General of the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA),  Philippe Lazzarini urged the joint Arab-Islamic summit to “act now to change the trajectory” of the war in Gaza.

"Gazans feel dehumanized and abandoned. They are yearning for reassurance, especially from their Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters, that they hear the crying of their children, and see the fear in the eyes of their mothers," Lazzarini stressed.

"The continuous bombardment, together with the siege, are choking Gaza and its people. Basic services are crumbling. Everything is running out – food, water, medicine, and fuel."

The statements at the Arab-Islamic summit come on the 36th day of Israel's war on Gaza, as the U.N. humanitarian agency describes northern Gaza as hell on earth.

In a specific proposal, the leaders emphasized the need to create two specialised legal monitoring units to document Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip since October 7. These units would also be tasked with preparing legal proceedings to be filed in international courts.

Going further, the leaders urged the International Criminal Court to initiate an immediate investigation into crimes against humanity committed by Israel in all the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians are evacuating toward southern Gaza as Israel's occupation army pushes deeper into densely populated urban areas.

The Palestinian health ministry says the death toll from Israel's relentless bombardment of the strip has surpassed 11,000, many of them women and children.

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