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Iraq's Sistani urges end to Israel's horrific acts on Gaza

Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani calls for global action against Israel's 'horrific acts' on Gaza  
4 min read
12 October, 2023
The 90-year-old al-Sistani is the top Shia cleric in Iraq and a powerhouse in the Shia world.
“All of these horrific acts are happening in full view and hearing of the entire world, with no effective deterrent or intervention." [Getty]

Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, on Wednesday, 12 October, called on the world to stand up to Israel's "terrible brutality" on the Gaza Strip, adding that only ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine will lead to an everlasting peace.

"The Gaza Strip is currently enduring continuous shelling and intense attacks of unprecedented scale, resulting in the loss of over six thousand innocent civilians, both martyrs and wounded, and leading to the displacement of a significant number of people from their homes. The attacks have also caused extensive destruction of residential areas, leaving no safe haven for the people," al-Sistani's office said in a statement as Israel's fierce bombardment on the civilians besieged in Palestine's Gaza Strip continued for the sixth day following Hamas's surprise weekend attack in the 1948 territories.

Israel further tightened a suffocating siege on Gaza, cutting access to water, food, medicine, and other life necessities, causing immense suffering to the residents and causing a human catastrophe. So far, the Israeli military's devastating air campaign on Gaza has killed 1,354 people and wounded over 6,000. Meanwhile, at least 1,300 people in Israel have also been killed and thousands more injured as Hamas continues launching barrages of rockets toward the Israeli cities. 

The 90-year-old al-Sistani is the top Shia cleric in Iraq and a powerhouse in the Shia world.

"All these horrific acts are happening in full view and hearing of the entire world, with no effective deterrent or intervention. There are even those who justify these criminal actions under the pretext of self-defence," the statement reads. "The entire world is called upon to stand against this terrible brutality and prevent the occupying forces from carrying out their plans to inflict further harm on the oppressed Palestinian people."

Iraq's top Shia cleric also said, "Ending the ongoing tragedy of this noble people, which has persisted for seven decades, can only be achieved by securing their legitimate rights and removing the occupation from their usurped lands. This is the only path to bringing security and peace to the region. Without this, resistance against the aggressors will continue, and the cycle of violence will claim more innocent lives." 

Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament will hold an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss the developments in Palestine.

"After submitting a request accompanied by more than 50 signatures from MPs, the upcoming Saturday, 14 October, has been set as the date for an extraordinary session dedicated to issuing resolutions regarding the genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people by the occupying Zionist entity," Yousef Al-Kalabi, an Iraqi lawmaker from the Coordination Framework ruling coalition wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

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At the same time, preparations are underway in Iraq for a million people to march in support of the people of Palestine on Friday as per a call from prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. 

ٍSalih Mohammed al-Iraqi, Sadr's shadow account on X, also known as the leader's minister, clarified late on Wednesday that all demonstrators should wear unified white coffins and march towards the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad to "terrify the enemies".

Iraqi government spokesman Bassem Al-Awadi, on Thursday, was quoted by  Iraqi News Agency (INA) in a statement as saying that Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani on Thursday directed sending humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.

"This aid, coordinated with Egyptian authorities, will include medical supplies and essential humanitarian relief for the Palestinian people," the statement reads. 

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The Iraqi factions allied with Iran threatened to partake in the latest Israeli war on Gaza if Israel further escalated its attacks and began to target Lebanon's Hezbollah.

As a massive and devastating Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip continues after Hamas's surprising military attack, "Al-Aqsa Flood," started on Saturday, tensions also grew along southern Lebanon, where the powerful Iran-backed armed militia Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged fire.  

Since Saturday, leaders of armed groups in Baghdad have repeatedly stated their "readiness" to intervene and remarked they are "monitoring the situation". They have warned that they are considering targeting the interests of the United States if it decides to enter the war alongside Israel.

The Secretary-General of Iran-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, said, "We are here to defend our people in Gaza, the occupied territories and the vulnerable. Our missiles, drones, and special forces are on high alert. They are ready to deliver precise strikes to the American enemy in their bases and disrupt their interests if they intervene in this battle. If necessary, known locations of the Zionist entity and its accomplices will be targeted by our firepower."