NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – Kenya Muslim leaders on Tuesday urged President Mwai Kibaki to suspend diplomatic ties with Israel over continued attacks in Gaza.
They said they were appalled by the government’s silence on the issue that has received widespread condemnation across the world following the killing of a reported 450 people, mainly innocent civilians.
Led by the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Professor Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the leaders told the President to call for a ceasefire and formally condemn Israeli atrocities.
“The government should call for and join in efforts aimed at putting to an end the violence and in particular the Israeli aggression,” a statement read on their behalf by the deputy chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Hassan Omar Hassan said.
Professor El-Bussaidy and National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF) chairman Abdullahi Abdi told the Kenyan government to also “call for accountability of the Israeli government and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) over the wanton destruction and the killings.”
“That is why we demand that the government suspends diplomatic relations with Israel forthwith,” NAMLEF’s Abdi said.
“We also demand that the government enacts a law or implement a clear policy that provides for respect for human rights as one of the basis of engagement in diplomatic and foreign relations,” the leaders said.
The Muslim leaders announced plans to hold demonstrations to the Israeli embassy this Friday to demand audience with the Ambassador and hand him a petition calling for an end to atrocities in Gaza.
KNCHR’s Hassan told Capital News they would formally inform the police about their planned demonstration.
“We will comply with the law which requires that we notify the police about our planned demonstration. We plan to go to the Central Police station for that,” he said.
“After demonstrations to the Israeli Embassy, we will proceed to present a petition to the Kenyan government at the Prime Minister’s office at the Treasury Building,” Mr Hassan said.
A senior police officer at Nairobi Area Provincial Police headquarters said no formal notification had been presented on the planned demonstration.
“We have not been informed as such, but it is pretty clear that no protests shall be allowed to the Israeli Embassy. Not even to the Prime Minister’s office,” he said, setting the stage for what is likely to be violent confrontations with the police.
Last Friday, Muslims held demonstration outside Jamia Mosque over the Gaza air strikes but did not make it to the city streets.
The chairman of the Muslim Human Rights Forum Al Amin Kimathi who led the protests addressed the media outside the mosque and hinted of the planned mass demonstration to the Israel Embassy.
Meanwhile, Israel Ambassador to Kenya Jacob Keidar on Monday said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was getting out of hand as the fighting there continued.
Mr Keidar said Israel was trying to keep the flow of humanitarian supply into Gaza even in the days of fighting with 80 trucks of humanitarian supply taken into Gaza from Israel on Monday.
He said the supply contained food, fuel and medical supplies.
“The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is terrible because it’s a crowded place with 1.5 million Palestinians and as we see it the Hamas have also held hostages because they want to fight with us,” the envoy said.
“So in the middle of fighting we are trying to maintain this kind of flow but it is very difficult,” he added.
He said Israel had to retaliate because about one million Israelis had been living under constant rocket attacks for the last eight years which intensified in the last few months.
“The Hamas oppose the peace process, oppose the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel because they would like to eliminate Israel and we tried to tell them time and time again to stop but they refused,” he said.
“They interpreted the fact that we asked them to stop it and we didn’t retaliate immediately as a weakness on our side and after eight years we said enough is enough.”