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Saudi crown prince, African leaders call for end to war in Gaza

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Friday called for an end to the war in Gaza, a stance later echoed in a declaration with African leaders attending a summit in Riyadh.

“We condemn what the Gaza Strip is facing from military assault, targeting of civilians, the violations of international law by the Israeli occupation authorities,” Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said during the African-Saudi summit in the kingdom’s capital.

“We stress on the need to stop this war and the forced displacement of Palestinians,” he added.

Israeli air strikes hit three Gaza hospitals and a school on Friday, killing at least 27 people, and a ground battle was underway near another hospital, Palestinian officials said, as Israel’s forces took on Hamas in the heart of the enclave.

Palestinian officials said 11,078 Gaza residents had been killed as of Thursday, about 40% of them children, in air and artillery strikes, with many others wounded.

Israel says 1,400 people were killed by Hamas in Israel, mostly civilians, and about 240 were taken hostage on Oct. 7, while 39 soldiers have been killed in combat since.

Leaders attending the African-Saudi summit in a joint declaration said military operations in the occupied Palestinian territories needed to stop and civilians must be protected, the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Leaders who attended the summit included the presidents of Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Djibouti and Mauritania, the prime ministers of Ethiopia and Niger, and the foreign minister of Egypt.

The leaders “stressed the need to end the real cause of the conflict represented by the Israeli occupation,” calling for intensified efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution “to guarantee the Palestinian people their right to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” according to SPA.

They said the international community must play an important role in pressuring Israel to “stop Israeli attacks and the forced displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip,” which it called “a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and international laws.”

Israel says its goal is to dismantle Hamas’ military and governance capabilities following the group’s Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel.

The hospitals attacked on Friday are in northern Gaza, where Israel says the Hamas militants are concentrated, and are full of displaced people as well as patients and doctors. Israel says Hamas is using them as human shields, which the group denies.

The African-Saudi leaders, in the “Riyadh Declaration”, called for relief organizations, including the United Nations Palestinian refugees agency UNRWA, to be supported in their efforts.

Saudi Arabia, as part of its Vision 2030 plan to overhaul its economy, will invest about $25 billion in Africa by the end of the decade, SPA said.

Saudi exports to the continent worth $10 billion will be financed and insured through 2030, and the Saudi Fund for Development will finance development projects worth about $5 billion in the same time frame, SPA added.

More than 50 deals and preliminary agreements were signed during the summit in fields including tourism, energy, finance, mining and logistics, SPA said.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi and Yomna Ehab; Writing by Yousef Saba and Nayera Abdallahl; Editing by Alison Williams and Bill Berkrot

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