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How Muslim Majority Countries Reacted to Israel’s Relentless Attacks on Gaza

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Both Pakistan and Turkey had sought deployment of an international protection force in Palestine if the UN Security Council were unable to do so.

The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has been in effect for 5 days, with the relentless attacks, airstrikes, and horrific violence that took place over 11 days killing 257 people including 75 children.

During the last holy and sacred nights of Ramadan, Israeli occupation forces attacked innocent Palestinian Muslims with stun grenades, trapping people including many children whose only crime had been peacefully praying in Al Aqsa mosque. It was caught on camera and rapidly shared on social media.

Israel’s forced dispossession of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah has also been heavily documented on social media, which has created more awareness and prompted protests worldwide.

The Muslim Vibe looks at how countries with a predominantly Muslim population reacted to Israel’s attacks, which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of innocent Palestinians. 

Maldives

Spokesperson to the President, Mohamed Mabrook Azeez, confirmed that the Maldives has suspended all ties with Israel to show its solidarity with Palestine. On Tuesday the 18th of May, the President of the Republic of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Salih tweeted that the people of Maldives “stand in solidarity with Palestine” alongside a photo of the Palestinian flag and #FreePalestine hashtag.

Since 2014, the Maldives has banned Israeli products with the exception of certain medical products with a special permit. In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid attended the Open-Ended Virtual Extraordinary Meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Executive Committee on 16th May.

In his statement, Minister Shahid condemned the violent attacks on Palestinian civilians. He stated the forceful eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, attacks on unarmed worshippers on the grounds of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, and constant bombardment of Gaza by Israel is in violation of international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The citizens of Maldives have also shown support to Palestinians. A group of young Maldivian people distributed 2,000 Palestine flags ahead of a protest, which took place on 18th May. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the protest was held on balconies by displaying and waving the Palestine flags. But the high demand for flags prompted people to give a percentage of their profits to Palestine.

Turkey

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was one of the first world leaders to denounce Israel as a “cruel terrorist state” following Israeli occupation forces violently attacking Palestinians who were praying at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Erdogan stated that “Israel, the cruel terrorist state, attacks the Muslims in Jerusalem – whose only concern is to protect their homes … and their sacred values – in a savage manner devoid of ethics,” Erdogan said. He also added the violence in Jerusalem was “an attack on all Muslims” and “protecting the honour of Jerusalem is a duty for every Muslim”. On the 15th of May, thousands of protestors urged Turkey to deploy soldiers to Gaza. 

Turkey has been consistent in its support to Palestinians as on 17th May the Turkish parliament head, Mustafa Sentop, conducted diplomacy talks with his Pakistani, Iraqi and Kazakh counterparts.

“As Turkey, we will continue henceforth to stand firmly behind our Palestinian brothers in their struggle for freedom and justice, as we have done so far,” Mustafa Sentop told his Pakistani counterpart Asad Qaiser.

On May 21st the head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Ali Erbas held a meeting with youth representatives and urged them to “Carry the Palestinian cause into the future without ever forgetting or ignoring it.”

Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attacks. Khan posted on Twitter “I am PM of Pakistan. We stand with Gaza. We stand with Palestine,” and attached a quote by writer Noam Chomsky.

Pakistan also called on the international community for urgent intervention to protect Palestinians from Israel. During a virtual emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Executive Committee, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh stated:

The international community must protect the Palestinians against the blatant and illegal use of force and flagrant violations of human rights. It should urgently intervene and take concerted actions to stop Israeli atrocities against the civilian population in Gaza.”

He added that the massacre of Palestinians should not be mislabelled as a conflict: “Attempts to create a false equivalence between Israel, the aggressor, and Palestinians, the victims, are inexcusable and as the collective voice of the Muslim Ummah the OIC should work in unity to dispel this deliberately deceptive perception.” 

On 21st May, Pakistan marked a newly created ‘Palestine Day’ to continue protesting for Palestine even after the ceasefire by Israel and Hamas was agreed. This also followed the events in which Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was accused of “anti-Semitism” during a US television appearance. Mass demonstrations were held in Karachi and Lahore. An explosion took place in the southwestern town of Chaman, which killed several people and wounded 17 others.

Morocco

On May 11th Morocco expressed its “serious” concerns during the Arab League foreign ministers’ virtual meeting.

Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita stated that: “We all agree on our categorical rejection of all violations and unilateral measures that harm the legal status of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people in achieving their aspirations for freedom and independence.”

He added that the Arab League foreign ministers condemn the “hateful speeches of some Israeli extremist religions,” warning that Israel’s practices will lead to violence and hatred.

Several rallies took place across 40 cities in Morocco on Sunday 16th May including Casablanca and Marrakech, where demonstrators called for “the liberation of Palestine” and “the abolition of normalisation.”

Moroccan authorities signed a deal with Israel at the end of 2021 in exchange for US recognition of Morocco’s disputed sovereignty over Western Sahara. On 15th May Morocco also sent 400 tonnes of emergency humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The leader of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, did not immediately make any public declarations in solidarity with Palestinians. But on April 26th UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “expressed concern over the acts of violence committed by right-wing extremist groups in the occupied east Jerusalem which have resulted in injuries among civilians,” according to the official Emirati News Agency.

The UAE normalised its ties with Israel in September 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords, to establish full relations with Israel.

The UAE ministry also called on “Israeli authorities to assume responsibility toward de-escalation and putting an end to all aggressions and practices that perpetuate tension and hostility.” 

In the UAE, protests are illegal and there has not been consistent noticeable media coverage about Palestine in comparison to other Muslim countries.

Saudi Arabia

On 16th May Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, condemned Israel’s “flagrant violations” of Palestinian rights. And on 21st May, Saudi Arabia’s King Salmon reiterated condemnation against Israeli aggression and attacks. 

Iran

On the 11th of May, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Palestinians to increase their “power and resistance” to stop Israel’s “brutal act.” Iran’s state TV reported that Khamenei said, “Zionists understand nothing but the language of force.” He also tweeted that Palestinians must “ stand strong” and “confront the enemy.”

And on 21st May, Khamenei called upon Muslim states to support Palestinians militarily and financially to help rebuild Gaza. 

Iranian protestors denounced Israeli attacks on Palestine at a rally in front of the Palestine Embassy in Tehran, Iran on the 16th of May. Prior to the latest attacks on Israel, Iran marked the annual Quds Day on 7th May. It has been held since the beginning of Iran’s revolution in support of Palestine.

Egypt

The ceasefire came into effect after Egypt brokered a deal between Israel and Hamas. Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned Israeli authorities storming Al-Aqsa Mosque and attacks by Israeli settlers on Sheikh Jarrah’s Palestinian residents.

As violence ensued, an Egyptian delegation was sent to Tel Aviv to negotiate a ceasefire. The same delegation met with Hamas officials. 

Egyptian authorities also opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza which allowed 263 Palestinians to receive hospital treatment. Rafah is the only passage which is not controlled by Israel to the outside world for Gaza.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also pledged $500m for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after sending 65 tonnes of medical supplies to Gaza. However, Egypt has an anti-protest law that rules out protests in support of Palestine.

Indonesia

Indonesian President Joko Widodo condemned the Israeli police violence against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy city of Jerusalem. He repeatedly urged the UN Security Council to take measures against Israel’s violations.

And on 12th May, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno said, “Indonesia will continue to work with the Palestinian people and nation in fighting for their rights.” 

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim nation and its largest Islamic party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), gathered for a Palestine solidarity rally outside the US Embassy in Jakarta, to demand an end to Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Bosnia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted on 16th May thanking 35 countries for their support, in which Bosnia was listed as one of the countries.

But Bisera Turkovic, Bosnia’s foreign minister, rejected the Israeli premier’s tweet: “Bosnia and Herzegovina supports a just solution between Palestine and Israel, no attack will lead to peace and stability,” she said in a statement. “We call for an immediate end to the attacks … only negotiations can bring about lasting peace. We also support initiatives that would help stop the wave of violence.”

In addition, the Bosniak member of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Presidential Council and the President of the Islamic Union, Sefik Dzaferovic, condemned Israeli police violations against Palestinians. He stated, “My message to Prime Minister Netanyahu is that Bosnia and Herzegovina does not support and cannot support the killings of innocent civilians in Gaza by Israeli military forces.”

Both Pakistan and Turkey had sought deployment of an international protection force in Palestine if the UN Security Council were unable to do so. Many people across the world have expressed dismay at the fact that the UN was unable to intervene sooner to prevent the loss of innocent lives and homes.

Going forward, Arab foreign ministers have decided to establish a committee, which includes Morocco, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to communicate with the UN Security Council and other influential countries. The Arab foreign ministers have also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to proceed with a criminal investigation into apartheid, illegal forced dispossession of Palestinians, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, which have been inflicted by the Israeli government against innocent Palestinian people. 

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