Pakistan and Saudi Arabia call for Gaza ceasefire, lament efforts so far

Meeting counterpart in Islamabad, Saudi foreign minister criticizes ‘wholly insufficient’ endeavors for a deal that would end fighting in Palestinian enclave

Visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, left, listens to Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 16, 2024. (Prime Minister Office via AP)
Visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, left, listens to Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 16, 2024. (Prime Minister Office via AP)

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday called for an immediate ceasefire and uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, on a visit to Islamabad, said that international efforts toward a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas have been “wholly insufficient.”

“We are now actively discussing the potential for famine in Gaza, and it means people are starving to death because humanitarian assistance is not getting to them,” he said. “This is an unacceptable situation.”

Without directly mentioning an Iranian attack on Israel over the weekend, he said “we are already in an unstable region, and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is already inflaming the region. We do not need more conflict in our region, we do not need more confrontation in our region, so it is our position that the de-escalation must be everybody’s priority.”

Tensions in the region have ramped up since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, when Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two terror groups backed by Iran, carried out a devastating cross-border attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians. The thousands of attackers who burst through the boundary and into southern Israel also abducted 253 people and took them as hostages to Gaza.

Israel responded with an offensive in Gaza to destroy Hamas, replace its regime, and free the hostages, of whom 129 remain in captivity, not all of them alive.

People search through the rubble of a collapsed building on the eastern side of the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on April 15, 2024. (AFP)

The Hamas-run health ministry says at least 33,600 Palestinians have been killed and over 76,00 injured in Gaza since the war started. Those figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of the terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

The Israel Defense Forces says it has killed over 13,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar described the killings in Gaza as “genocide,” and said that the “world’s conscience must wake up” and there should be “an immediate and unconditional ceasefire” with aid flowing into the territory.

Six months into the war, Israel has ramped up efforts to deliver aid to the territory in light of growing international warnings of a humanitarian crisis and potential famine, including opening a new land crossing.

On Sunday, White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said that humanitarian aid getting into the Gaza Strip has increased by a large amount in the last few days.

International mediators, including the United States, Egypt and Qatar, have worked to reach an agreement that would include at least a temporary lull in the fighting along with the release of hostages. However, with both Israel and Hamas laying down conflicting terms, so far no deal has been reached.

Pakistani’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, right, greets his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan upon his arrival at a military airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, April 15, 2024. (Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier met with Prince Faisal and called for closer cooperation with Saudi Arabia to help his cash-strapped nation with investment, a government statement said.

Sharif last week met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s closest allies and a leading supplier of oil to Islamabad. According to Pakistani officials, Prince Mohammed had assured Pakistan that Saudi Arabia would invest $5 billion in Pakistan.

In July, Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion into Pakistan’s central bank to boost its foreign exchange reserves.

Most Popular
read more: