Moroccans slam foreign ministry's 'neutral' stance on Israel's horrific Gaza bombardment

Moroccans slam foreign ministry's 'neutral' stance on Israel's horrific Gaza bombardment
Israel and Morocco's recent cooperation on security and military exercises have angered growing numbers of Moroccans.
3 min read
08 August, 2022
Moroccan activists condemned the Israeli and Moroccan governments [Getty]

"Oh, traitor rulers" chanted Moroccans who packed a square in Casablanca on Sunday, as they protested Israel's brutal bombardment of the besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip and condemned Rabat's nearly two-year-long normalisation agreement with Israel.

Moroccan activists from the 'Moroccan Front to Support Palestine and Against Normalisation' movement gathered Sunday in Casblanca's Sraghna Square. 

Dressed in keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags, dozens of Moroccans mourned the killing of more than 40 Palestinians in the besieged strip - including at least 15 children - as they called for the normalisation accord Morocco signed with Israel in December 2020 to be torn up.

"As we condemn the Zionist entity's war crimes in Gaza, we also call on the Moroccan state to cancel the normalisation accord that emboldens the occupation to continue its crimes," Mohammed El-Ouafi, told The New Arab.

El-Ouafi was at the forefront of a sit-in, along with other pro-Palestine activists, and expressed his disappointment at Rabat's official "soft" statement on Israel's recent bombardment of Gaza.

"[Morocco's] foreign ministry statement does not honour Moroccans or Morocco as it supports the Israeli narrative," said the activist.

Over the weekend, Morocco's foreign ministry issued an official statement on Israel's attacks saying: "[Rabat] follows with great concern the situation in the Gaza Strip that it is witnessing a significant deterioration, as a result of the resurgence of violence and fighting, and the resulting casualties and loss of life and property."

It has also called for "avoiding further escalation and restoring calm to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control and to spare the region more congestion and tension that undermine peace prospects".

This stood in stark contrast with the strongly-worded condemnations of Israel's harrowing attacks on the densely-packed Palestinian enclave from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and others.

Several activists and politicians lambasted Rabat's "neutral" tone in the statement, which has seen more than a dozen children horrifically killed. Gaza has also suffered a devastating Israeli siege for more than a decade.

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On Sunday, Morocco's Islamist party Justice and Development (PJD) also criticised "the regressive language of the Foreign Ministry’s statement".

It added that the comments were "unusually devoid of any reference to condemning and denouncing the Israeli aggression and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and compassion for their martyrs, but also devoid of any condemnation of the Zionist incursion courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque".

The Moroccan-Israeli normalisation agreement was signed under the leadership of the PJD's former leader Saadeddine El-Othmani, which has since distanced itself from the accord - after losing a majority in the 8 September elections - saying it was a "mistake".

Israeli-Moroccan ties were sealed following a US-brokered deal that saw Washington recognise Rabat's sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.

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At the time, many Moroccans bitterly accepted the deal, including the pro-Palestine Justice and Development Party (PJD), viewing it as a patriotic duty that could help end decades of conflict in the Western Sahara, in Morocco's favour.

However, recent Moroccan-Israel cooperation agreements on security and military exercises angered many Moroccan citizens who chose two years ago to keep silent.

"They say they did the accord to secure the Moroccan Sahara. How could helping Israel kill Palestinians support our national cause?" said Mustapha, a 40-year-old citizen.

"It does not make sense anymore. They lied to us."