Nearly three weeks after Israel’s offensive in Gaza began on July 8, leaders from Saudi Arabia and Iran condemned the assault and urged solidarity amongst the world’s Muslim community. In an early August speech that also addressed the role of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz condemned the “collective massacres that have not excluded anyone,” while an “indifferent” international community watched silently. Around the same time, top Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani made more focused statements, condemning Israeli attacks as “trampling the principles of humanity and international law,” and called for the arming of Palestinians in the West Bank.
A three-day truce in Gaza that began Tuesday morning has stemmed violence, which resulted in at least 1,850 Palestinian (largely civilian) and 67 Israeli (largely soldiers) deaths during the nearly month-long conflict. As Israeli troops exit the strip, all sides have sent delegates to Cairo with hopes of negotiating a more lasting cease-fire.
In his speech, the Saudi king did not mention Israel by name and instead condemned various forms of terror by “groups, organizations, [and] countries,” which threaten to give rise to “a generation that believes only in violence, rejects peace and believes in the clash” of civilizations. Riyadh’s deep mistrust of the Muslim Brotherhood and its connections with others Islamist groups in the region have strained relations between the Kingdom and the Palestinian group and Brotherhood ally, Hamas.
Although Hamas had distanced itself from Iran by supporting opposition forces in Syria, it seems that at the moment the two “strategically have no choice but unity.” In a public statement, Commander Qasem Soleimani, Head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, expressed his support for Palestinian resistance groups battling Israel’s occupation, and made it clear that “disarming the resistance is wrong. It is a delusion that will not be realized.”
During a speech on Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, on July 29, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei addressed Israel’s offensive on Gaza, and stated that “the Islamic world has a responsibility: whatever it can do to equip the Palestinian people.” He urged that the Palestinian people “need arms to defend themselves.”
Appalled by the significant loss of civilian life in Gaza, both Abdullah and Khamanei urged solidarity among the world’s Muslim communities. The Saudi king called on “leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation” to unite, while Iran’s Supreme Leader counseled “Islamic people and governments” to confront Israel both “economically and politically.”