RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz criticized on Friday international inaction over Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which he described as involving mass slaughter and “war crimes against humanity,” in a speech read out on his behalf on state television.
“This (international) community which has observed silently what is happening in the whole region, was indifferent to what is happening, as if what is happening is not its concern. Silence that has no justification,” he said in his speech.
He also slammed militants who he said were killing innocent people and mutilating their bodies in contravention of Islamic teachings and called on the region’s leaders and religious scholars to prevent Islam from being hijacked by militants.
King Abdullah named no groups but was apparently referring to violence in neighboring countries, including Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State has captured swathes of territory, killing scores of people and forcing Christians to flee.
Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam, sees itself as a leader of the Sunni Muslim world and a main player in the Middle East. But the world’s largest oil exporter and U.S. ally has played only a low-key role in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Gaza, leaving the main Arab efforts to its close ally Egypt and fellow Gulf monarchy Qatar.
Israel launched its offensive in Hamas Islamist-dominated Gaza on July 8, unleashing air and naval bombardments in response to a surge of cross-border rocket attacks. Tanks and infantry pushed into the territory of 1.8 million on July 17.
Gaza officials say at least 1,499 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and 7,000 wounded. Sixty-one Israeli soldiers have been killed and more than 400 hurt. Three civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel.