Islamic leaders hold emergency meeting on Gaza

AP , Sunday 16 May 2021

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said all of Israel's attempts to make demographic changes in Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem will fail

Israeli strikes on Gaza AFP
Palestinian paramedics evacuate a girl from the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 16, 2021, following massive Israeli bombardment on the enclave. AFP

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation held an emergency virtual meeting Sunday over the situation in Gaza calling for an end to Israel's military attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki of the Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, decried what he called Israel's ``cowardly attacks'' at the start of the meeting.

``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.''

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu took a similarly hard line.

``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.''

Across the Arabian Peninsula and Arab Gulf states, reactions to the fighting have been mixed. In Qatar, home to the Al-Jazeera satellite network, hundreds turned out late Saturday night to listen to a speech by Hamas' top leader Ismail Haniyeh.

``The resistance will not give in,'' Haniyeh vowed. He added that ``resistance is the shortest road to Jerusalem'' and that Palestinians will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Kuwait's parliament speaker reportedly spoke with Haniyeh on Saturday, as did Qatar's foreign minister. So too did Gen. Esmail Ghaani, the head of the expeditionary Quds Forces of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Then there are Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, two Gulf Arab states that reached recognition deals with Israel last year in the waning months of the Trump administration. Those nations, as well as Saudi Arabia, have reiterated their support of Palestinians obtaining their own independent state.

The protests were stoked by five days of mayhem that left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza and eight dead on the Israeli side. The violence came after weeks of mounting tensions and heavy-handed Israeli measures and crackdown in contested Jerusalem.

Israel occupation army stepped up its assault and slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes Saturday, in a dramatic escalation that included bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp and destroying a building that house the offices of The Associated Press and other media.

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