People search for survivors and the bodies of victims through the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 26, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. (Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP) Image Credit: AFP

DUBAI:  The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco on Thursday condemned the targeting of civilians and “flagrant violations of international law” in Gaza which has been under heavy Israeli bombardment.

The foreign ministers of the Arab countries said that Israel’s right to self-defence after a devastating October 7 attack by Hamas militants did not justify neglecting Palestinians’ rights.

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Palestinians in Gaza said Israeli air strikes had pounded the territory again overnight and people living in central Gaza, near the Bureij refugee camp and east of Qarara village, reported intensive tank shelling all night.

“We emphasize that the right to self-defence ... does not justify flagrant violations of international law and international humanitarian law, or the deliberate neglect of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” the foreign ministers said in their statement.

They also condemned forced displacement and collective punishment in Gaza and emphasised that “the absence of a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has led to repeated acts of violence and suffering for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and the peoples of the region”.

The ministers emphasised the need for a two-state solution, ensuring the establishment of “an independent, sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state on the pre-June 4, 1967, lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Both the West Bank and East Jerusalem were captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.