A devastating Israeli resumption of war in Gaza on Friday overshadowed the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, with some delegates walking out, leaders canceling their speeches and others not attending the event.
In his speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “As a result of Israel’s occupation, we cannot avoid facing the humanitarian crisis in our neighboring Palestinian territories, which cannot be justified under any circumstances.” He considered it a “crime against humanity and a war crime”.
In turn, the presidents of Colombia and Cuba described the war as “genocide”.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was not included in the final list of speakers after his name appeared.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was scheduled to be the first speaker, but did not attend the summit.
“As we see in the region, conflicts are causing great suffering and emotion,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the summit. “We heard reports of renewed bombs in Gaza.”
Iranian delegates walked out of the conference in protest at the sudden Israeli presence, which the head of the delegation, Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian, described as “contrary to the goals and directions of the conference.”
Iranian official media reported on Thursday that President Ibrahim Raisi would not attend the conference and that Mehrabian would act in his stead.
Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid used his speech to condemn the aggression against Gaza, calling on the international community to “stand firm”.
A war against innocent people
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country was “appalled by the ongoing tragedy in Gaza, and that the war against innocent people in Palestine is a war crime that must stop.”
Other leaders have also criticized the war in Gaza, but Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has not spoken about it.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog canceled his speech, a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled his participation in the conference, as the war in Gaza dominated the conference’s deliberations.
So far, the Israeli occupation of Gaza has led to the fall of more than 15,000 martyrs, most of them women and children.
Israel says 1,200 Israeli soldiers and settlers have been killed as a result of Operation Al-Aqsa flooding, which was launched by the opposition on October 7 last year in settlements around Gaza.
The Palestinian opposition said the move came in retaliation for crimes of aggression against civilians in the West Bank and Gaza and the desecration of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.
It is noteworthy that the United Arab Emirates, the host country of the conference, is one of the Arab countries that signed default agreements with Israel in 2020.