Jordan says 'war crimes' in Gaza must be investigated

Foreign Minister accuses Israeli government of leading region into more war

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on a house in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza, on Sunday. AP
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Jordan is calling for an investigation into “war crimes” in Gaza, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday, as the kingdom puts further diplomatic pressure on Israel after international ceasefire efforts floundered.

Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel and is dependent on the US for aid and security. Last month, it helped Israel shoot down missiles and rockets launched by Iran.

However, King Abdullah has been critical of Israel's conduct in Gaza.

The king has used his ties to Washington in a bid to prevent Israel from spreading the war into the occupied West Bank, which would represent a direct threat to Jordan. A large proportion of the Jordanian population are descended from Palestinians who fled to the kingdom during Arab-Israeli wars in the last century.

“The war crimes that are being committed must stop,” Mr Safadi said after meeting Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Amman.

“They must be investigated and those responsible for them must be held accountable. Jordan has been doing everything it can to bring about that objective,” he added.

Jordan “alone cannot do it”, he said, adding that “ultimately, the responsibility for stopping this aggression is on Israel”.

The war started on October 7, when Iran-backed Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people. Palestinian health officials say Israel's subsequent operation in Gaza has killed more than 35,400 people.

Mr Safadi said Israel's alleged “use of starvation as a weapon of war” constitutes a war crime.

“There is an illegal inhuman aggression going on in Gaza, the victims of which are innocent civilians,” he said, adding that the seven-month war “continues to aggravate a humanitarian catastrophe”.

Prolonged ceasefire efforts by the US and regional countries have not succeeded, with Israeli officials saying that they will press on with the goal of destroying Hamas.

Israel says Hamas has four battalions remaining in Rafah, Gaza's southernmost city on the border with Egypt, where more than a million people have sought shelter from the fighting.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have now fled Rafah amid Israeli bombardment, despite international warnings that a military operation in the city could worsen the already dire humanitarian conditions there.

Mr Safadi said Israel was defying the world by maintaining Rafah as a target.

“The whole world has been telling Israel: don't go into Rafah because that will be a catastrophe,” he said. “Israel is not listening and is continuing with the operation.”

Before Israel's hardline government came to power at the end of 2022, the country had been improving ties with Jordan, including the revival of bilateral talks on business projects, supported by Washington.

Mr Safadi said the “radicalised” government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading the region “to more war”, and disregarding a renewed international drive for a permanent settlement of the conflict.

“If you listen to rhetoric coming out of Israeli officials in the last few days, they are saying no two-state solution, no political will, no political future,” he said.

“You have a country that occupies five million people in both the West Bank and Gaza, and is telling them: 'You have no future.'”

Updated: May 19, 2024, 9:39 PM