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Saudi steps up arrests of Israel critics amid normalization prospect: Report

Israeli troops sit atop an infantry-fighting vehicle (IFV) stationed near the Gaza Strip’s border with the occupied territories on April 30, 2024 amid Tel Aviv’s ongoing genocidal war on the Palestinian territory. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi Arabia has reportedly stepped up arrests of those criticizing the Israeli regime’s ongoing genocidal war on the Gaza Strip amid the likelihood of normalization of relations between the kingdom and Tel Aviv.

India’s Business Standard daily carried the report on Thursday, citing people inside and outside Saudi Arabia, who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity.

The sources said the arrests had been made in relation to comments made by the critics on the social media.

They named one of the arrestees as a company executive, who had “expressed views on the Gaza conflict deemed by authorities to be incendiary,” the report said.

Another was identified as a “media figure, who said Israel should never be forgiven” for waging the war, as well as “an individual calling for the boycott of American fast-food restaurants in the kingdom” over their links to the occupying entity, it added.

Speculations have been rife that the United States is trying to mediate potential rapprochement between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The kingdom reportedly put the normalization talks “on ice” back in October due to the war that has so far claimed the lives of at least 34,568 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

According to the daily, however, Riyadh has also indicated that it “remains open to warmer relations if [Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu withdraws troops and commits to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

“The Saudi arrests for Gaza-related posts indicate that the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (the kingdom’s de facto ruler) will take a hard line against citizens not toeing the line when it comes to normalizing ties with Israel,” it added.

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