The plight of the Palestinian people cannot be disregarded, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow on Wednesday, a day after his talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani. Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere perceive what the Palestinians have endured for years as a gross injustice that had been “aggravated beyond belief.”
The Russian president said that a Palestinian state should have been created alongside the state of Israel back in 1948 but never was. “The Palestinian problem is in the heart of every person in [the Middle East] and every person practicing Islam,” he told the forum.
His words came amid an ongoing escalation around the Gaza Strip. A new conflict broke out after the Gaza-based Hamas militant group launched a massive attack on Israel, killing more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians. West Jerusalem responded with a massive bombing campaign against Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 800 people, according to the local health officials.
The UN said earlier this week it would launch a probe into war crimes committed by both sides, adding that it already had “clear evidence” suggesting that both Hamas and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) had violated international law.
Putin blamed the escalation on Israel’s “settlement policy,” which saw land being seized from Palestinians in the West Bank and handed over to Israeli settlers. The president also said that Washington has had a role in these developments since it neglected to employ any real mechanisms to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opted instead to only address the “material needs” of the Palestinians with some financial and humanitarian aid.
Read more: Putin blames US for Middle East violence
“They [the US] essentially sought to use handouts to substitute for a solution to the [Palestinian] people’s real problems,” the Russian leader said. “We have always said that it would change nothing unless some fundamental issues are resolved,” he added.
The president also called on both Hamas and the IDF to “leave women and children in peace” and avoid targeting civilians in their operations. “Russia is well aware that both Israel and Palestine [feel] really strong bitterness but one should strive to minimize civilian casualties,” he said.
Moscow has been calling on both sides to stop the hostilities and “condemned violence in any form.” It also called both targeting civilians in military operations and taking them hostage “unacceptable.” According to Russian diplomats, four Russian citizens were killed in the Hamas attack on Israel over the weekend and six more went missing.