Chinese FM says Israel’s actions go beyond self-defense, calls to avoid collective punishment of Gaza people

Chen Qingqing, Global Times, October 15, 2023 —

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said Israel’s actions have gone beyond the scope of self-defense, expressing concerns about the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict as Israel ordered one million people from the northern part of Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours as it prepared for a ground assault.

In his phone call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China opposes and condemns all acts that harm civilians, as they violate basic human conscience and the fundamental principles of international law.

Israel’s actions go beyond the scope of self-defense. It should heed the calls of the international community and the UN Secretary-General and avoid collective punishment of the people of Gaza, Wang said.

Israel was preparing on Saturday to launch a ground assault in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, after telling Palestinians living in the densely populated territory to flee south toward a closed border with Egypt, Reuters reported.

Israeli national security adviser meanwhile warned Lebanese militant group Hezbollah not to start a war on a second front, threatening the “destruction of Lebanon” if it did, according to the media report.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday that the relocation of Gaza residents from the north to the south “is extremely dangerous – and in some cases, simply not possible.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister said all parties should not take any actions that escalate the situation, and instead should return to the negotiation table as soon as possible. China is actively communicating with all parties to push for a ceasefire. The immediate priority is to ensure the safety of civilians, quickly open humanitarian rescue channels, and meet the basic needs of the people of Gaza, Wang said.

China’s special envoy on the Middle East Affairs Zhai Jun will visit relevant countries in the Middle East next week to further strengthen coordination with all parties, he was quoted as saying in media reports on Sunday.

The Israel-Palestine conflict continues to escalate. Armed conflicts have erupted at the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria borders, and the spill-over effects on the regional and international community are spreading, Zhai noted. The international community must remain highly vigilant and collectively manage and control the situation to prevent it from spiraling out of control, he said.

China has always maintained that force is never the solution. Resorting to violence will only lead to a vicious cycle of retribution, creating further obstacles to a political resolution, Zhai noted. And it is imperative to cease fire and violence promptly, cool down the situation, and thus pave the way for a political solution.

Since the onset of this round of conflict, China has been actively communicating and coordinating with relevant parties. China’s special envoy recently had phone conversations with foreign ministers and officials from Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others.

They all hope to end the hostilities, condemn acts that harm civilians, and avoid humanitarian disasters. They also hope to restore the Middle East peace process, Zhai revealed.

Currently, several Chinese citizens remain in the Gaza Strip, he said. In recent days, our overseas institutions have maintained close contact with them, providing safety guidance and support, assisting them in moving to the southern part of Gaza, and striving for their early evacuation to safe areas.

So far, four Chinese nationals have been killed, six are receiving treatment in local hospitals, and two are missing in the latest conflict.

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