Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s ‘flagrant violations’ in Gaza offensive

The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation called meeting to discuss Israeli escalation

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
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Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Sunday condemned Israel's "flagrant violations" of Palestinian rights and urged action to halt its military operations in the Gaza Strip and other Palestinian territories.

"We call on the international community to act urgently to stop the military offensives immediately and allow the evacuation of the wounded," Prince Faisal said in a speech to an online meeting of the 52-member Organisation of Islamic Co-operation in Riyadh.

He called on the international community and human rights organisations to confront the "dangerous [Israeli] escalation" that violated all international agreements and norms.

"Safeguarding Jerusalem and the innocent people's blood is an obligation," he said, throwing his country's support behind Jordanian and Egyptian efforts to mediate and resolve the conflict.

“Peace in the Middle East is our strategic choice ... the kingdom calls for pushing forward efforts aiming at reaching peace according to the two states’ solution,” Prince Faisal said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki spoke of "an apartheid system established by Israel against the Palestinians" and called for international and regional economic and political sanctions on Israel.

In his speech, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the forcible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem were a war crime.

Israel is pushing the region towards a wider conflict and deeper instability, Mr Safadi said.

The latest outbreak of violence began in East Jerusalem this month, when Palestinians protested against a court order to hand Palestinian homes to settlers.

Israeli police measures throughout Ramadan and at Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, a site revered by Muslims and Jews, also led to anger.

Hamas began firing rockets towards Jerusalem last week, triggering an Israeli assault on Gaza.

The turmoil spilt over, fuelling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.