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Pressure mounts for immediate Gaza truce

Calls grow louder for recognizing state of Palestine as Israel continues strikes

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-24 09:46

Palestinians shop at a makeshift market set up next to buildings destroyed in an Israeli strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Wednesday. MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS

Pressure is building on Israel to call for an immediate cease-fire in Rafah and other places in the Gaza Strip with more nations recognizing the state of Palestine.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing heat from across the globe as the three European countries — Spain, Norway and Ireland — on Wednesday said they would recognize a Palestinian state.

King Abdullah II of Jordan and Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said on Wednesday stressed the urgent need for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza as they held talks in the Jordanian capital Amman, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Moroccan Ambassador to the United Nations Omar Hilale was among the latest to renew calls for an immediate cease-fire to end "Israeli massacres" targeting civilians in the besieged enclave, the Morocco World News reported.

Despite international and domestic pressure, Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting Hamas to "ensure what we have seen tonight never happens again" as more bombardment rained down overnight on targets in the devastated Gaza Strip.

Abdul Wahed Jalal Nori, an analyst and lecturer at the Department of Fundamental and Inter-Disciplinary Studies at the International Islamic University Malaysia, called the decisions by more countries to recognize the State of Palestine "a significant political move" as it enhances international legitimacy, reinforcing support for a two-state solution.

However, this must be coupled with concrete action to bring about real change on the ground, he said.

Welcoming the three countries' decision, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation appreciated these types of stances that support international efforts aimed at ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land since 1967 and pushing in the direction of achieving justice and freedom for the Palestinian people.

Wednesday's recognition drew anger from Israel, which announced the recall of its envoys to these countries.

Farhan Mujahid Chak, visiting faculty at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, told China Daily the whole world "is coming around to the reality" that peace in the Middle East "is a benefit for all".

Heavy fighting

Following the announcement by the three Western countries, Gaza woke up to another "bloody morning" involving bombardment and artillery shelling, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.

Heavy fighting raged in Gaza, where fresh strikes around Rafah were seen on Thursday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Urban combat has also flared again in northern areas, including Jabalia, which Israeli forces first entered several months ago.

A four-story building was completely destroyed, killing at least 16 Palestinians, including 10 children. An evacuation center was also targeted.

"I believe international superpowers in particular have the responsibility to bring Israel to justice and to abide by international laws and resolutions," Muslim Imran, director at Malaysia-based think tank the Asia Middle East Center for Research and Dialogue, told China Daily.

Imran blamed the United States for being "complicit in the genocide that's taking place".

He said that he believes the Palestinians have high expectations of other superpowers to "balance Washington's one-sidedness and blind support" for the Israeli government.

The conflict broke out after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Oct 7 in Israel, which killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,709 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

Chak said the two-state solution that recognizes the rights of Palestinians and the rights of Israelis "is the only path forward" but needs support.

"We need as many countries as possible to come out and officially declare their support for a Palestinian state," said Chak.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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