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Arab foreign ministers urge “immediate” end to blockade of Gaza

Foreign Ministers attend an Arab League extraordinary meeting in Cairo on October 11, 2023   -  
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Meeting at Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Arab foreign ministers condemned Wednesday (Oct. 11), Israeli retaliatory air strikes on the Gaza strip following an assault on Israeli communities by Hamas militants.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League said that violence would not bring stability but perpetuate the conflict.

"The retaliatory operations carried out and prepared by the Israeli occupation forces will not bring stability but will lead us into more cycles of violence and blood," Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

"The collective punishments practiced by these authorities against the residents of Gaza are rejected and condemned in international law."

After five days of bombardment of Gaza, residents live with no water supply nor electricity among other essential supplies that have been cut by Israel.

It is one of the world's most densely populated areas, home to about 2.3 million people.

Arab ministers urged Israel to enable aid to be "immediately" allowed to enter Gaza. 

On Tuesday (Oct. 10) U.N. Human Rights chief Volker Turk said that "sieges" were illegal under international law.

"There are serious possibilities for the situation to deteriorate and the scope of confrontations to expand," the Secretary-General of the Arab League said. 

"These possibilities - that I wish not to happen because they could push the entire region to an unknown fate- unfortunately things seem to be heading in this direction."

After five days of bombardment of Gaza, residents live with no water supply nor electricity among other essential supplies that have been cut by Israel.

Over 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians have lost their lives.

Reactions around the world

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, expressed on October 7 "his utmost concern at the outbreak of the current Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, causing grave consequences for the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians in particular, and for peace in the region, in general."

The Chairperson "urgently [appealed] to both parties to put an end to military hostilities and to return, without conditions, to the negotiating table to implement the principle of two States living side by side, to safeguard the interests of the Palestinian people and the Israeli people."

China said On Thursday (Oct. 12), that it "shares positions" on the Israel-Hamas conflict with the Arab states, calling for a ceasefire and end to the fighting. 

Speaking at a General Audience Wednesday (Oct. 11), Pope Francis expressed his “sorrow and concern” for the war that has broken out between Israel and Hamas, an Islamist militant organization operating in Palestine.

In his appeal, Pope Francis asaid that “it is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves” and expressed concern for the “total siege facing the Palestinians in Gaza, where there have also been many innocent victims.”

Guterres reiterated on Wenesday his call for "the necessary release of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza", estimated by the Israeli government at more than 100 people, and recalled that civilians must be protected in any conflict, as dictated by international humanitarian law.

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