The joint Arab and Islamic Extra-ordinary Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, yesterday demanded an end to Israel’s aggression against Gaza.
The summit condemned what it called “war crimes and barbaric, brutal and inhumane massacres.”
The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza was reported to have said yesterday that Israeli forces had killed 11,078 Palestines since the war broke out on October 7.
The Defence for Children International-Palestine group said over 4,506 Palestinian children had been killed in Gaza and about 1,500 others missing.
Israel had on Friday pruned down the number of Israel killed to 1,200 from initial figure of 1,400 and more than 200 taken hostage by Hamas fighters last month.
A statement issued Saturday after the joint Arab and Islamic Extraordinary Summit quoted the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, as stressing the OIC’s rejection of the forced displacement plans and demanded immediate cessation of the Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The OIC, with 57 members and five observer states, represents nearly one-third of United Nations (UN) member states.
The statement noted that the summit was held to discuss the Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The summit was opened by the Crown Prince and Saudi Prime Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, with the participation of the leaders and heads of government and heads of delegations of the member states of the OIC and the League of Arab States.
Taha thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince, Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, for the invitation to convene the summit for the generous hospitality, and for all the arrangements made to ensure its success.
He said the summit came “to confirm our solidarity with, and unwavering support for the Palestinian people, and our joint commitment to our responsibilities for supporting our central cause, the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif.”
The secretary-general called for an immediate, durable and comprehensive cessation of the ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinians for opening humanitarian corridors to deliver aid and essential needs to the Gaza Strip in an adequate and sustainable manner and for providing international protection for the Palestinian people.
Taha underlined his absolute rejection of plans for the forced displacement of Palestinians, “indicating that a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause required the establishment of the independent State of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967 with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, based on international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Arab leaders, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Iraq’s Abdul Latif Rashid, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Libya’s Presidential Council, Mohamed Al-Manfi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Krygystan President Sady Japarov, were among the leaders who attended the summit.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud expressed belief that Arab leaders had lived up to the “high expectations” placed on them by the people in Gaza.
He said Israel’s attack on Gaza and the lack of response showed that the international security order had failed.
Arab and Muslim leaders have adopted resolutions and took “effective decisions” and have spent time and effort attempting to “break the siege against Gaza and allow the much needed aid” into the Strip.
He said the decisions taken by Arab leaders also highlighted the international community’s “inaction, that turned a blind eye to the collective punishment” against people in Gaza.
The unified message among Arab leaders, he said, was that the war “must stop now”.
“There is no possibility to have stability in the region except through peace, and this can only be achieved through the establishment of a Palestinian state,” he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians were facing a “genocidal war” and called on the United States to end Israeli “aggression.”
Hamas had called on the summit to take “a historic and decisive decision and move to stop the Zionist aggression immediately.”
Reuters reported that Arab foreign ministers were divided as some countries, led by Algeria, called for a complete cut in diplomatic ties with Israel, while other Arab countries, which had established diplomatic relations with Israel, pushed back, stressing the need to keep channels open with Netanyahu’s government, they said.
Many dead, others wounded as Al-Shifa Hospital attacked
The Chief Medical Director of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Dr Ashraf al-Qudra, said relentless Israeli bombardment left Al-Shifa medical facility without its last lifeline – a small electric generator.
“There are wounded and the dead lying on the ground at the gate of Al-Shifa Hospital. The Israeli army targets everything that moves in the hospital’s courtyards,” he said.
Al-Qudra said the medical complex was out of service and the only way to save the wounded was by using primitive methods.
“We are losing one wounded person after another, and five wounded people were recently martyred due to the lack of treatment.
“There are 20,000 people in Al-Shifa complex, including displaced people, medical staff and wounded people. Al-Shifa has become “a theatre” for Israeli army operations.
“We appeal to several parties to stop what is happening around the Al-Shifa Medical Complex to no avail.
“We need to support hospitals with medicine, medical supplies and fuel,” he added.
Al-Quds Hospital surrounded by Israeli tanks
A spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent yesterday said that according to the last communication with doctors inside the hospital, the situation remained dire.
“Some of the internally displaced persons were injured when they were targeted directly by Israeli forces.
“The situation is very dangerous. We are extremely worried about our medical team, 500 patients and 14,000 displaced people,” Nebal Farsakh told Al Jazeera.
Israel also launched air raids at the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, the interior ministry said.
176 Palestinians killed in occupied West Bank – UN
The United Nations agency, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said 168 Palestinians, including 46 children, had been killed by Israeli forces since October 7 in the occupied West Bank.
Another eight, including one child, were killed by Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem. This accounts for 42 per cent of all Palestinian fatalities in 2023, OCHA said.
It has recorded 233 settler attacks against Palestinians, resulting in casualties, damage to Palestinian-owned property (168 incidents), or both casualties and damage to property (36 incidents).
“This reflects a daily average of seven incidents compared with three since the beginning of the year,” the agency noted. In nearly half of all incidents, Israeli forces were either accompanying or actively supporting the attackers.
UN food agency warns of starvation in Gaza
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has renewed its call for sustained humanitarian access to Gaza as stocks inside the besieged coastal enclave run out.
“Every day that passes pushes more people closer to starvation,” said Corinne Fleischer, WFP regional director for Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe.
The WFP has food for 244,000 people close to the border with Gaza. More supplies are arriving in northeastern Egypt, where an assistance hub is being set up, the agency said.
“Heart-wrenchingly, hundreds of people are queuing for hours every day to get bread rations at bakeries across Gaza while food is there ready for distribution, just across the border,” Samer Abdeljaber, WFP’s country director in Palestine said.
Meanwhile, two premature babies have died due to power cuts at Dar al-Shifa Hospital, Physicians for Human Rights Israel said on Saturday.
“As a result of the lack of electricity, we can report that the neonatal intensive care unit has stopped working. Two premature infants have died, and there is a real risk to the lives of 37 other premature infants” at Al-Shifa hospital, the group said, citing doctors at the hospital, Agence France-Presse reports.
Pro-Palestine protest staged in London
Organisers of the pro-Palestine march in London said the latest estimate was that “more than 800,000” people have taken to the streets, according to the PA news agency.
Those on the street included right-wing counter-protesters who battled with police officers.
The pro-Palestinian supporters made their latest mass call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
A woman using a speaker system from the stage at the end of the march in Nine Elms said, “There are more than 800,000 of us here today and that number may be as high as one million, making this the second largest march in British history.”
However, the London metropolitan police said earlier that they estimated 300,000 people were marching.
They added the pro-Palestinian rally had a “very large” turnout and there had been no incidents related to it so far.
United Kingdom’s tabloid, The Guardian, said Scotland’s former justice secretary was booed by pro-Palestine activists at the rally in Glasgow after saying Israel has a right to “defend itself against terrorism,” according to the PA news agency.
Keith Brown, who served under Nicola Sturgeon, spoke at the event in front of a large crowd at the city’s Buchanan Street steps.
Brown said he was speaking in a personal capacity, as opposed to as the SNP’s deputy leader and a former minister.
“We need to be clear that collective punishment is a war crime, and it is wrong that the Palestinian people are currently being collectively punished for the actions of a terrorist group.
“The only way we are going to end the perpetual cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine is by addressing the root cause.
That’s why we stand for a two-state solution, which recognises the sovereignty, the independence, the territorial integrity and the right to self determination of both Palestine and Israel.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, blamed Minister Suella Braverman for emboldening the far-right after she accused police earlier in the week of favouring “pro-Palestinian mobs.”