JEDDAH: Israeli war crimes against Palestinians were to blame for heightened regional tension and violence that threatened to ignite a wider war in the Middle East, Jordan’s foreign minister said on Friday.
Ayman Safadi also voiced support for South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice over the war in Gaza, and said Amman was ready to submit legal documents and appear in court.
“The Israeli aggression on Gaza and its continued committing of war crimes against the Palestinian people and violating international law with impunity are responsible for the rising tensions in the region,” he said in comments published by official news agency Petra. “The stability of the region and its security were closely tied.”
“The international community is at a humanitarian, moral, legal and security crossroads. Either it shoulders its responsibilities and ends Israel’s arrogant aggression and protects civilians, or it allows Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist ministers to drag us to a regional war,” he said.
Israel has denied allegations that it has committed war crimes, and rejected as “grossly distorted” the accusation of genocide. On Friday it presented its defense to the charge at the court in The Hague.
“The appalling suffering of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, is first and foremost the result of Hamas’s strategy,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser Tal Becker told the court. “If there were acts of genocide, they have been perpetrated against Israel. Hamas seeks genocide against Israel.”
The court is expected to rule this month on possible emergency measures, including South Africa’s request that it order Israel to halt its offensive. But it will not rule yet on the genocide accusations, which could take years.
Safadi’s made the comments after the pre-dawn air strikes by US and British forces on Houthi positions in Yemen that followed weeks of disruptive attacks on Red Sea shipping by the militia, who say they are acting in solidarity with Gaza.
Friday’s attacks add to escalating fears of wider conflict in the region, where violence involving Tehran-aligned groups in Yemen as well as in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria has surged since the Israel-Hamas war began in early October.
The war began on October 7 with Hamas attacks on southern Israel, triggering a relentless Israeli military campaign in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Jordanians have demonstrated regularly since the start of the war in support of the Palestinians, with some protesters calling to cut ties with Israel and shut its embassy in Amman.
Jordan in November recalled its envoy to Israel and asked Israel not to send back its ambassador, who had been away.