Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, heavily criticised both Hamas and Israel for the ongoing conflict in the Middle East that has claimed thousands of lives, remarking that he prefers India’s civil disobedience movement, according to several reports.
In his speech at Rice University in Houston, Prince Faisal said that “there were no heroes, only victims” in the war. He condemned Hamas for going against the Islamic traditions of not harming innocent civilians, BBC reported.
The Saudi Prince balanced his condemnation of Hamas with similar rhetoric for Israel, accusing it of “indiscriminate bombing of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza” and the “indiscriminate arrest of Palestinian children, women and men in the West Bank”.
According to social media reports, Faisal also condemned Hamas for providing the Israeli government with a higher moral basis and disrupting Saudi Arabia’s attempt for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue. He similarly lashed out against Israel for “stealing” Palestinian land, destroying Palestinian homes and transferring Qatari money to Hamas.
The Saudi prince also condemned Western politicians for “shedding tears when Israelis kill Palestinians, but refuse to express even sorrow when Israelis kill Palestinians”. He took issue with the US media’s use of the phrase “unprovoked attack” in reference to the 7 October raid, saying: “What more provocation is required.. than what Israel has done to the Palestinian people for three-quarters of a century?”
Saudi Prince mentions India
In his sharp and careful remarks on the Israel-Hamas war, the Saudi Prince mentioned the example of India’s independence movement in the context of the Palestinian issue, while saying that all occupied people possess the right to resist their occupation.
Instead of a military solution in Palestine, Faisal said that he preferred “civil insurrection and disobedience” used to bring down the British Empire in India and the Soviet Empire in eastern Europe. He also remarked that “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
However, according to some reports, Faisal mentioned that the normalisation deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel was still on the table.
According to BBC, his powerful remarks mark the clearest indicator yet of the Saudi leadership’s thinking on the situation. This is also the first time a Saudi Prince has openly condemned the Hamas group.
Who is Turki al-Faisal?
Turki al-Faisal Al Saud is a former governmental official, diplomat and spy chief, whose father Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud was assassinated in 1975. His brother was Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister until his death in 2015.
Faisal became Saudi Arabia’s spy chief, running the General Intelligence Presidency for 24 years till 2001. He served as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in the United Kingdom and then the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
The 78-year-old provides an intriguing insight into Saudi thinking on the few occasions when he speaks publicly at international forums. Saudi Arabia’s rulers share a dislike for Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is backed by Iran, a strong rival of Riyadh.
However, Saudi Arabia and Iran formally agreed to end their dispute earlier this year and have jointly condemned Israel’s bombing of Gaza and reaffirmed their support for a Palestinian state.
The death toll in the ongoing war has exceeded 6,000 on both sides of the Gaza border. More than 1,400 people – including civilians and soldiers – have been killed in the Hamas attack on Israel over two weeks ago. On the other hand, more than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry run by Hamas. That includes a disputed number of people who died in a hospital explosion earlier this week.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank says 91 Palestinians have been killed there since October 7. In the rest of the year leading up to the Hamas attack, 197 Palestinians were killed, according to an Associated Press count.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited troops stationed near the border with Lebanon, where the Israeli army and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants also have traded fire during the Hamas-Israel war.
Meanwhile, as Israel prepares for a sweeping ground operation in the Gaza Strip, it has also vowed to step up its aerial strikes in the besieged Palestinian territory to create the “best conditions” for troops to move in.
Additionally, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said that they should expect surprises prepared by terror groups when they enter the Gaza Strip, in a clear indication of Israel’s next stage of operations.
Israeli airstrikes also targeted two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants, sparking concerns that the conflict will spiral out to other countries in the Middle East.
(with agency input)