KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian prime minister on Tuesday condemned the Israeli government over the use of military force against Palestinian protesters who were marching to mark the anniversary of the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip.
“I strongly condemn the excessive use of force in retaliation by Israel toward the Palestinians, using hundreds of missiles from Israeli warplanes and the placement of military assets at the border,” Mahathir Mohamad said in a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Since last Saturday, a large mass of protesters have demonstrated along the Gaza fence to demand the right to return to their homes in occupied Palestine, as well as to demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Earlier, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed Israel for using “live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas” on protesters, injuring 300.
The 93-year-old premier is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza and regards Israel’s recent actions as “systematic acts of violent aggression, incitement, provocation and collective punishment against defenseless Palestinians.”
The Southeast Asian nation has called on Israel for a cease-fire between the two sides, while condemning the international community for its “silence” on the matter.
“I call for all parties to de-escalate the growing tension and to restore calm. I urge Israel to respect international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians. The cease-fire must be fully respected,” said Mahathir, adding that “many innocent lives” had been lost due to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Muslim Imran, president of the Palestinian Cultural Organization based in Malaysia, told Arab News that he applauded Malaysia for being consistent about its stance on the Palestine issue.
“The Palestinians are highly appreciative of Malaysia’s stance. I hope other Islamic nations, members of the OIC and UN would be vocal and play an active role to help end Israeli’s violations,” Imran said.
“Malaysia’s solidarity has come at a time when some Arab nations are in internal turmoil, therefore Malaysia’s solidarity has become more important and more essential,” he said.
Malaysia does not recognize Israel as a country and has received backlash by some for being “anti-Semitic.” In January, Malaysia banned Israel from entering Malaysia to compete in an international Paralympic swimming championship.
Last week, Malaysia condemned US President Donald Trump for his recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights region.