CAIRO/GAZA CITY: The Arab League has called for an investigation into the “crimes” of Israeli forces, following the deaths of scores of demonstrators at the Gaza border, with the Saudi foreign minister reiterating his country’s support for Palestinian rights.
In the deadliest day of violence in Gaza since the end of the 2014 conflict, Israeli forces on Monday killed about 60 Palestinians protesting against the move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit, speaking at an extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, demanded an independent investigation into the violence.
“We call for a credible international investigation into the crimes committed by the occupation,” he said.
“We are facing a state of blatant aggression against international law and legitimacy, which was embodied by the US embassy’s transfer in the occupying state to Jerusalem.”
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, said the Kingdom will not hesitate to support the Palestinians’ fight for their legitimate rights.
In his opening speech to the Arab League, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom deplored the US administration’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a step that represented “a significant bias against the historical and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in the city.”
“The Palestinian issue is our first issue and will remain so until the Palestinian people obtain all their legitimate rights, foremost of which is the establishment of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom condemned the targeting of Palestinian civilians by Israeli occupation forces and urged the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities to stop the violence and protect the Palestinian people.” Saudi Arabia “refuses to move its embassy to Jerusalem,” he added.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki on Thursday suggested that Arab countries should recall their ambassadors to the US in response to Washington moving its embassy.
“There is no harm in Arab states collectively recalling their ambassadors in Washington to their capitals for consultations,” Al-Maliki said in televised remarks at the Arab League.
Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered along Gaza’s border with Israel since March 30, calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their homes now inside Israel.
Israeli forces have killed about 116 Palestinians since the protests began, with one Israeli soldier reported wounded.
The deaths of up to 60 protesters on Monday has divided opinion in Gaza. While there is widespread anger at Israel, there is also disillusionment with Hamas, the dominant political faction in the strip.
Ghada Al-Serhi, a 39-year-old mother of two, told Arab News she had taken part in weekly demonstrations with her husband and brothers.
“Any people under occupation must suffer until liberation is achieved,” she said. “Yes, there are many victims, but should we continue to live under oppression, in a situation that does not meet the minimum standards for a meaningful life? Israel is the occupier. We must face them.”
However, 25-year-old Mohammed Al-Riyashi said he did not support the protests because they are “an easy way for Israel to kill young people.”
He told Arab News: “We do not need more wounded and disabled people. We need someone who will save us from the tragic situation in which we live — from the difficult conditions in which we live — not someone who will make life even more difficult and cruel.”