News / Middle East

Saudi Arabia Labels Israel's Gaza Offensive a 'War Crime'

FILE - Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
FILE - Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
Reuters

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah broke his silence on Friday over the three-week-old conflict in Gaza, condemning what he saw as international silence over Israel's offensive and describing this as a war crime and "state-sponsored terrorism''.

Saudi Arabia, which regards itself as a leader of the Sunni Muslim world, has played only a background role in the diplomacy to reinstate calm in Gaza, leaving the main Arab pursuit of a ceasefire to close ally Egypt and fellow Gulf monarchy Qatar.

"We see the blood of our brothers in Palestine shed in collective massacres that did not exclude anyone, and war crimes against humanity without scruples, humanity or morality,'' Abdullah said in a brief speech read out on his behalf on state television.|

"This [international] community, which has observed silently what is happening in the whole region, has been indifferent to what is happening, as if what is happening is not its concern. Silence that has no justification.''

His speech, which focused mainly on what he described as a Middle East-wide threat from Islamist militancy, followed criticism by some Saudis on social media, including prominent clerics, over Riyadh's quiet response to the Gaza crisis.

Political complications

The kingdom's policy towards Gaza is complicated by its mistrust of the territory's ruling Hamas, an Islamist movement with close ideological and political links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Riyadh regards as a terrorist organization.

Saudi Arabia believes the Brotherhood has a region-wide agenda to seize power from established government leaders, including the kingdom's al-Saud dynasty, and has quarreled with Qatar over its support for the group.

Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a political analyst in the United Arab Emirates, said the speech was a bid to rebut accusations that Saudi Arabia - along with allies Egypt and the UAE - was happy to see Hamas weakened by Israel's offensive, which was prompted in part by increasing Hamas rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

"People want to see a stronger position from these three countries and it is not coming over very strongly,'' he said.

 The kingdom's muted response to the crisis so far has been echoed across a region already absorbed by a series of civil wars, insurgencies and internal political strife that have erupted in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings.

Since the Israeli air and ground onslaught began, Saudi Arabia's public expressions of condemnation over the violence have been mostly limited to statements following the weekly cabinet meetings, and to pledges of humanitarian aid.

 Newspaper coverage, which often follows the official line in Saudi Arabia, has often relegated the conflict to inside pages in sharp contrast to previous Israeli incursions into Gaza.

Some editorials have taken the rare step of blaming Hamas
 for the bloodshed, in which 1,509 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed, rather than Israel. There have been 66 Israeli deaths, 63 of them soldiers.

Riyadh took a far more prominent role at past junctures of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It sponsored the 2002 Arab peace initiative offering the Jewish state an end to conflict with all Arab states in return for the creation of a Palestinian state and return of Palestinian refugees. Israel rejected it.

 Since the offensive began, however, King Abdullah has met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheik Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon to discuss the crisis.

Cease-fire collapse

The conflict in Gaza has coincided with Saudi attempts to navigate multiple regional crises, including political chaos in Egypt, two separate insurgencies in its neighbor Yemen and wars in Iraq and Syria.

This regional turmoil is set against Saudi Arabia's bitter rivalry with Shi'ite power Iran and its fears of rising influence exerted by Sunni militant groups the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which seek to topple the al-Saud dynasty.

In his speech, Abdullah condemned militants who he said were killing innocent people and mutilating their bodies in contravention of Islamic teachings.

He also called on the region's leaders and religious scholars to prevent Islam from being hijacked by militants.

He further said he was disappointed by the lack of any follow-up from other countries to his proposal two years ago to establish an international center to combat terrorism.

 Israel declared a Gaza ceasefire over on Friday only hours after it was announced, saying Hamas militants violated the pact 90 minutes after it took effect and apparently captured an Israeli officer while killing two other soldiers.

The truce was the most ambitious attempt yet to end the fighting and followed increasing international alarm over the soaring Palestinian civilian death toll. 

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: concern citizen from: USA
August 04, 2014 11:23 AM
These spineless corrupt leaders should not be given a platform to discuss the palestinian problem or comments on it. The palestinians are civilized community under occupation and these thugs collaborate with Israel in exchange of few prostitutes. Shame


by: Bola Saka from: ilorin,nigeria
August 02, 2014 4:53 AM
many comentators are ignorant.No body is asking israel to open her border with Gaza bt the international water of Gaza.you cannot compare rafah border with the inermational border that close by israel

In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
August 03, 2014 2:39 AM
Godwin, your comparison of Boko Haram to Hamas is not sincere.
Boko Haram is a Nigerian terrorist organisation, while Hamas is not Israeli terrorist inc. But Hamas was created, funded and constructed by the government of Israel. The conscious world should blame Israel for that. Whoever creates terrorist organisation should be labelled as a terrorist state.
Israeli's right of self defense does not give Israel the right to kill civilians and children.

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 02, 2014 1:05 PM
Bola, will you open up the borders of the international waters to boko haram even though you're a muslim? Just imagine the menace boko haram is in Nigeria and compare it with what Hamas means to Israel out there. That's how it is. Please be sensible for once and be sincere; it's Israel's right to exist, which Hamas denies them, and which is the obstacle to the Middle East peace. But God blesses Israel to be stronger than its enemies, thus it seizes its enemy's international borders until it learns to embrace peace. I am of the opinion, and you agree with me, that unless Hamas seeks peace with Israel, it is bound for destruction, even self destruction.


by: Faiyaz Ahmed S M from: India
August 02, 2014 12:16 AM
If Saudi Arabia wishes the war to end and killings to stop, the first and foremost thing it has to do is to tell its closest ally and protégé to open the Rafah border and lift the illegal siege on Gaza. Why blame Israel alone when Egypt and The Kingdom are in cahoots with that country in denying Palestinians their rights and a chance to live with dignity?


by: jose d. martinez from: hawaii
August 02, 2014 12:01 AM
let's see in your country king common women are given the same human right's as common men ,right ? then your custom of female genital mutilation,that they can not enjoy being what God made them,women.those are a few thing's you should think about.sweep your floor first,the terrorist's are at your border's and in your cities.


by: Amin from: Texas
August 01, 2014 5:05 PM
The Gaza blockade at Rafah wouldn't exist were it not for Saudi backed Sisi!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid