Leaders and top officials from different countries have gathered in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for a conference to discuss ways to de-escalate the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, amid growing fears of a wider Middle East conflict.
As of Friday, October 20, the death toll in Gaza, due to Israel’s ongoing bombardment had risen to 4,137 since October 7, 2023.
According to the Palestinian health ministry in a statement issued on Friday, the number of injured had risen to 13,300, with over 1,000 others missing.
The Israeli authorities said more than 1,400 people have died and 3,400 others have been injured in Israel.
Dubbed the ‘Cairo Summit for Peace’, representatives from countries including Jordan, France, Germany, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Qatar and South Africa are attending the one-day meeting on Saturday, together with the United Nations and European Union officials, according to Al-Jazeera.
In his opening remarks, Egyptian President, Abdel el-Sisi, invited leaders to agree on a road map to end the “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip and revive a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The goals included the delivery of aid to Gaza and agreeing to a ceasefire, followed by negotiations leading to a two-state solution.
“All civilian lives matter,” Jordan’s King, Abdullah, said, addressing the summit.”
“The relentless bombing campaign underway in Gaza as we speak is cruel and unconscionable on every level. It is the collective punishment of besieged and helpless people. It is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. It is a war crime.
“Anywhere else, attacking civilian infrastructure and deliberately starving an entire population of food, water, electricity and necessities would be condemned. Accountability would be enforced … but not in Gaza,” he added.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, asked for humanitarian corridors to be opened. He also said Palestinians would not leave.
“We will remain on our land.”
During the summit the absence of any representative from Israel and any senior United States official dampened expectations for what the summit may achieve.