Medics attend to Furja Saleh Mabkhout, 4, at a hospital in Sanaa to which she was rushed after she was injured in an air strike in the northern province of al-Jawf, Yemen July 15, 2020. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
In what has been Saudi Arabia’s latest aggression in its five-year-war with Yemen, eleven civilians were killed during air strikes in the al-Jawf last Wednesday—the Saudi raids were the third such incident since June. The Houthi health ministry raised the death toll to 24 after initially saying nine people, including two children, were killed when coalition air raids hit homes.
The victims were celebrating the circumcision of a a week-old boy, who was one of those killed in the attack, the ministry said. Youssef al-Hadri, a spokesman for the ministry, shared graphic photos showing wounded children on hospital beds with bandages on their bodies
The conflict in Yemen, largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed more than 100,000 people and caused what the UN describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi coalition, which receives weapons and intelligence from Western allies including the United States and the United Kingdom, was last month removed from a UN blacklist several years after it was first accused of killing and injuring children in Yemen.
The humanitarian group Save the Children condemned the airstrikes amidst an escalation of violence in recent weeks in the war-torn country.
“These attacks not only threaten children lives directly, but also the lifesaving humanitarian work and efforts to battle the coronavirus outbreak which many health workers say is spreading out of control amid minimal testing,” said Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen.
Yemen has officially recorded at least 1,530 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, including 692 deaths. However, the actual tally is believed to be much higher as testing capabilities are severely limited.
As previously written, the Saudis deliberately target civilian infrastructures—homes, farms, factories, schools, buses, gas stations, government buildings, water treatment facilities, and anything else imaginable. In fact, over the past three-plus years, Saudi airstrikes have produced over 35,000 civilian casualties: over 13,000 killed and over 21,000 injured—many of which are women and children. What is more, the acts of the Saudi-led coalition constitute genocide within the meaning of 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide—both the Obama and Trump administrations are equally culpable for their blind support of the Saudis.
The UN is also to blame as it seems to have given the green light to Saudi Arabia to carry out its atrocities after being removed from the blacklist. Keep in mind that the UN has been eqaully silent in other criminal acts committed in the name of Islam, such as forced marriages of prepubescent and teenage girls to adult men, having boys as sex slaves, the exploitation of women as property, the ongoing slavery in the Islamic world, including that of children, the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another religion, hate speech against Christians and Jews, etc.
While the UN envoy for Yemen Michael Griffiths has called for a transparent investigation into air strikes, he or any UN representative has yet to condemn the Saudis for the attacks. One may ask why? The answer may be that Saudi Arabia is expected to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in October. And the fact that the kingdom is still involved in slavery and human trafficking, as well as forcing little girls to marry adult men, one should not be surprised, nor should one expect for that matter, any immediate condemnation by UN officials for then they would be condemning themselves.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is also author of Islam: Religion of Peace – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.