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Middle East leaders slam Israel at Saudi-hosted summit on Gaza

RIYADH (AFP) – Arab leaders and Iran’s president meeting yesterday in the Saudi capital 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 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) comes after Hamas’ 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.

Host Saudi Arabia “confirms that it holds the occupation (Israeli) authorities responsible for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Gulf kingdom’s de facto ruler, said as the summit began.

“We are certain that the only way to guarantee security, peace and stability in the region is to end the occupation, siege and the settlements,” he said of Israel’s actions in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

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 organisation” for its conduct in Gaza.

The Arab League and the OIC, a 57-member bloc that includes Iran, were originally meant to meet separately.

Arab diplomats told AFP the decision to merge the meetings came after Arab League delegations had failed to reach an agreement on a final statement.

Palestinian families fleeing Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza towards the southern areas. PHOTO: AFP
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