BRICS condemns Israel war on Gaza in signal to the West

Leaders of major emerging economies called for an end to Israel’s war on Gaza on Tuesday, and for a cessation of hostilities on both sides to ease the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a virtual summit chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the BRICS grouping denounced attacks on civilians in Palestine and Israel, with many leaders calling the forced displacement of Palestinians, within Gaza or outside the territory, “war crimes.”

“We condemned any kind of individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land,” a chair’s summary read. The group, which did not issue a joint declaration, also “reiterated that the forced transfer and deportation of Palestinians, whether inside Gaza or to neighbouring countries, constitute grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and war crimes and violations under International Humanitarian Law.”

The BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all major emerging economies looking for a greater say in a global order long dominated by the United States and its Western allies. These countries are often viewed as leaders of what is referred to in international policy speak as the “Global South”.

But it wasn’t just these five countries that spoke on the war on Tuesday. Earlier this year, the BRICS had agreed to expand and add Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran as members from 2024. The leaders of these six countries also participated in the meeting called by South Africa. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined the summit too.

The chair’s summary — in essence a gist of the mood in the room — highlights growing calls from the Global South to end the war on the Gaza Strip. The conflict began after an October 7 attack on Israeli communities by the armed group Hamas that saw 1,200 people killed and 240 others taken hostage. In response, Israel has incessantly shelled Gaza, targeting hospitals, schools and refugee camps and killing more than 13,000 people, many of them children, in violation of international laws.

Since then, millions of people across Africa, Asia and the Middle East have marched for a “Free Palestine” and called for a ceasefire. Experts in Africa and elsewhere have accused the United States, United Kingdom and European Union of hypocrisy for claiming to be  bastions of democracy and human rights while supporting Israel’s war in Gaza.


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