Muslim states condemn Israel's 'barbaric attacks' against Palestinians

·2-min read
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during a news conference in Riyadh

DUBAI (Reuters) -The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on Sunday for an immediate halt to what it described as Israel's barbaric attacks on Gaza and blamed "systematic crimes" against the Palestinians for hostilities now in their seventh day.

The OIC statement came after a virtual meeting in which Saudi Arabia condemned the violation of the sanctity of Muslim holy sites and evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

The 57-member body accused the United Nations Security Council of inertia. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei issued a separate statement on Sunday, tweeted by Malaysia's premier, calling for an emergency U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates called for a ceasefire. The UAE and Bahrain had along with other Arab states last year broken a longstanding taboo in the region by establishing formal ties with Israel, with tacit approval from Gulf power Riyadh.

"De-escalation and the highest degree of restraint are important to avoid dragging the region to new levels of instability," said UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem al-Hashimy.

Pre-dawn Israeli strikes in the centre of Gaza City on Sunday brought the death toll in Gaza to 181, including 47 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.

Palestinian militants began rocket assaults on Israel on Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city's Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Israel has retaliated with air and artillery strikes into densely populated Gaza.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud opened the OIC meeting by urging the global community to end the escalation in violence and revive peace negotiations based on a two-state solution.

Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinians want the eastern section as a capital of a future state. Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem is unrecognised internationally.

Turkish foreign ministry sources said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for an international protection mechanism for Palestinian civilians and told the OIC that Israel should be held accountable for war crimes and that the International Criminal Court could play a role.

His Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the international community to start a "political and legislative" campaign against Israel, Iranian state media said.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Maher Chmaytelli and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, Daren Butler in Istanbul and Joseph Sipalan in Kuala Lumpur; Writing by Ghaida GhantousEditing by David Clarke, Frances Kerry and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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