In powerful remarks on the ongoing war in Gaza, a Saudi Arabia prince, who was the country’s former intelligence chief, has slammed both Hamas and Israel and said there are “no heroes in this conflict, only victims”. Turki Al Faisal’s speech at a US university also mentions India when he cites the example of the Independence movement as an example of resisting occupation through civil disobedience.
A viral video of the address starts with the 78-year-old saying that all occupied people have a right to resist their occupation, even militarily.
“I do not support the military option in Palestine. I prefer the other option: civil insurrection and disobedience. It brought down the British empire in India and the Soviet empire in eastern Europe,” he said.
— Baker Institute (@BakerInstitute) October 17, 2023
Israel, he said, has overwhelming military superiority and the world can see the devastation it is causing in Gaza.
Hitting out at Hamas for the October 7 attacks that sparked the war, Faisal said, “I categorically condemn Hamas’ targeting of civilian targets of any age or gender as it is accused of. Such targeting belies Hamas’ claims to an Islamic identity,” he said.
There are Islamic injunctions, he said, against the killing of innocent children and women and the elderly, and against desecration of places of worship.
Hamas’ surprise attacks on Israel cities and the brutal retaliation have claimed over 5,800 lives so far, according to UN estimates.
The Saudi prince slammed Hamas for “gifting the high moral ground to an Israeli government that is universally shunned”. “I condemn Hamas for giving this awful government the excuse to ethnically cleanse Gaza of its citizens and bombing them to oblivion,” he said.
The Saudi prince also slammed Hamas for sabotaging Saudi Arabia’s attempt to reach a peaceful resolution to the Palestine issue. Multiple experts have said the normalisation of Israel-Saudi Arabia relations, which was paused due to the war in Gaza, was a crucial backdrop against which Hamas planned its unprecedented attack.
The Saudi prince minced no words in his criticism of Israel for its counterstrike that targeted innocent civilians in Gaza and West Bank. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said.
Countering the US media’s use of “unprovoked attack” to describe Hamas’ offensive in Israel, Faisal said, “What more provocation is required to make it provoked than what Israel has done to the Palestinian people for three-quarters of a century?”
Flagging Israel’s alleged excesses in Palestine and the killing of civilians, he said, “This bloodletting must stop.”
“I condemn Israel’s stealing of Palestinian lands,” he said, further accusing Tel Aviv of targeted killings of Palestinians and jailing civilians.
The Saudi prince also hit out at Western politicians for “shedding tears” when Israelis are killed by Palestinians but “refusing to even express sorrow” when it’s the other way around. “There are no heroes in this conflict, only victims,” he said.
Faisal led the Saudi intelligence agency Al Mukhabarat Al ‘Ammah for 24 years and also served as the country’s ambassador to London and the US. While he does not hold any public office at this point, it is unlikely that his remarks do not have the backing of Saudi leadership. Against this backdrop, the comments are being seen as an articulation of Riyadh’s position on the ongoing war.