In Beijing, Arab and Muslim Ministers Urge End to Gaza War 

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (front row 4rth R) poses for a group photo with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah (front row 3rd L), Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (front row 3rd R), Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (front row 2nd L), Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (front row 2nd R), Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki (front row L), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha (front row R) before a meeting of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority nations at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on November 20, 2023. (AFP)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (front row 4rth R) poses for a group photo with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah (front row 3rd L), Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (front row 3rd R), Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (front row 2nd L), Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (front row 2nd R), Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki (front row L), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha (front row R) before a meeting of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority nations at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on November 20, 2023. (AFP)
TT

In Beijing, Arab and Muslim Ministers Urge End to Gaza War 

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (front row 4rth R) poses for a group photo with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah (front row 3rd L), Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (front row 3rd R), Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (front row 2nd L), Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (front row 2nd R), Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki (front row L), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha (front row R) before a meeting of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority nations at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on November 20, 2023. (AFP)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (front row 4rth R) poses for a group photo with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah (front row 3rd L), Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (front row 3rd R), Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (front row 2nd L), Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (front row 2nd R), Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki (front row L), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha (front row R) before a meeting of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority nations at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on November 20, 2023. (AFP)

Arab and Muslim ministers called on Monday for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as their delegation visited Beijing on the first leg of a tour to push for an end to hostilities and to allow humanitarian aid into the devastated Palestinian enclave.

The delegation, which is set to meet officials representing each of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, is also piling pressure on the West to reject Israel's justification of its actions against Palestinians as self-defense.

The officials holding meetings with China's top diplomat Wang Yi on Monday are from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia, Palestine and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, among others.

"We are here to send a clear signal: that is we must immediately stop the fighting and the killings, we must immediately deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza," said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah.

The extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh this month also urged the International Criminal Court to investigate "war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing" in the Palestinian territories.

Saudi Arabia has sought to press the United States and Israel for an end to hostilities in Gaza, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, gathered Arab and Muslim leaders to reinforce that message.

About 240 hostages were taken during Hamas's deadly cross-border rampage into Israel on Oct. 7, which prompted Israel to invade the Gaza Strip with the intention of eradicating the armed group.

Gaza's Hamas-run government said at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombardments since then, including at least 5,500 children.

Israeli ambassador to Beijing Irit Ben-Abba told foreign reporters at a briefing on Monday that she hoped there would not be "any statements from this visit about a ceasefire, now is not the time."

She said that Israel hoped that the delegation would talk about hostages captured by Hamas "and call for their immediate release without preconditions," adding that the parties involved should talk together about Egypt's "role in facilitating humanitarian assistance."

'Brother and friend'

China's Wang said Beijing was a "good friend and brother of Arab and Muslim countries," adding it has "always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights and interests."

Since the start of hostilities, China's foreign ministry has repeatedly stopped short of condemning Hamas, instead calling for de-escalation and for Israel and Palestine to pursue a "two-state solution" for an independent Palestine.

Since the end of China's nearly three years of COVID lockdowns, Xi has launched a diplomatic push aimed at countering the United States and its allies, who he says seek to contain and suppress his country.

Beijing has deepened alliances with non-Western led multilateral groups such as the BRICS bloc of nations while strengthening ties with countries in the Middle East and the Global South.

On Monday, Wang added China will work to "quell the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible, alleviate the humanitarian crisis and promote an early, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue."

China's special envoy on the Middle East, Zhai Jun, has engaged officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority - which governs in the occupied West Bank - as well as the Arab League and EU in the last year to discuss a two-state solution and recognition for Palestine at the United Nations.



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
TT

Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.