Monday, March 4, 2024

Russia says Israel cannot carry out ‘collective punishment’ of Gazans

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated it is unacceptable that Israel is using Hamas’s October 7 offensive as justification for a collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza. He has called for international monitoring of the situation on the ground in the besieged strip.

Speaking virtually at the Doha Forum on Sunday, Sergey Lavrov told Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays the unprecedented attack by Hamas inside the Israeli territory did not happen in a vacuum.

It was due to “decades and decades of a blockade [in Gaza] and decades and decades of unfulfilled promises to the Palestinians that they would have a state, living side to side with Israel in security and good neighbourliness”, he said.

At least 18,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7 – 70 percent of them women and children, prompting rights bodies and experts to call it a “genocide”.

Addressing the Doha Forum, a two-day global meeting being held in the Qatari capital, Lavrov stated the ongoing war in Gaza is about “cancel culture” – a recent phenomenon that refers to the mass withdrawal of support to public figures or celebrities who did things in the past that are no more acceptable today.

“Whatever you don’t like in the events which lead to a situation, you cancel,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Israel’s assault in Gaza a failure of US diplomacy and suggested that Moscow could be a mediator in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Moscow has also condemned this week’s US veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s representative at the UN, stressed US diplomacy was “leaving scorched earth in its wake”.

Shortly after Lavrov spoke at the Doha Forum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a telephone conversation with Putin, expressing his “displeasure” at Moscow’s positions against Israel at the UN and other global forums.

“The prime minister emphasised that any country that would suffer a criminal terrorist attack such as Israel experienced would act with no less force than the one Israel is using,” read a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

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