Arab, Muslim leaders slam Israel at Saudi-hosted summit on Gaza

Arab and Muslim leaders meeting in the Saudi capital Saturday roundly condemned Israel’s actions in its war against Hamas in Gaza, as fears mount the conflict could draw in other countries.

The emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) comes after Hamas militants’ bloody October 7 attacks that Israeli officials say left about 1,200 people dead, mostly civilians, and 239 taken hostage.

Israel’s subsequent aerial and ground offensive has killed more than 11,000 people, also mostly civilians and many of them children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Syria’s Bashar Al Assad, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi are among those who are attending the combined extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League. The joint summit replaces two separate gatherings which were scheduled earlier this month.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, on his first trip to Saudi Arabia since the two countries mended ties in March, said Islamic countries should designate the Israeli army a “terrorist organization” for its conduct in Gaza.

Israel says it is out to destroy Hamas and blames the Palestinian armed group for the high death toll, accusing it of using civilians as “human shields” – a charge Hamas denies.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the summit that “it is a shame that Western countries, which always talk about human rights and freedoms, remain silent in the face of the ongoing massacres in Palestine.”

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Washington had “the greatest influence on Israel” and “bears responsibility for the absence of a political solution” to the conflict.

Qatar’s Emir said his country, where several Hamas leaders are based, is seeking to mediate the release of Israeli hostages and hopes a humanitarian truce would be reached soon.

“For how long will the international community treat Israel as if it is above international laws,” he said.

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