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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani harshly criticised Israel on Tuesday, describing the intensive bombing of the Gaza Strip since October 7 as “barbaric”.
“The barbaric bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza is a dangerous escalation and exceeds all limits. We refuse attacks on civilians from any party, regardless of their nationality, and we refuse to act as if the lives of Palestinian children do not count, as if they have no faces or names,” Sheikh Tamim said in a speech addressed to the country's Shura council.
“We say to Israel: enough is enough. It is untenable for Israel to be given an unconditional green light and free licence to kill, nor it is tenable to continue ignoring the reality of occupation, siege and settlement,” Sheikh Tamim added.
Qatar has been playing an active role as a mediator between Hamas and other parties on the release of hostages held by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza since the attack on Israel earlier this month.
Qatar, which hosts Hamas’ political office in Doha, has been successful in negotiating the release of two dual American-Israeli citizens last Friday as well as two elderly Israeli women on Monday.
Sheikh Tamim’s statement comes just three days after he took part in the peace summit on Gaza in Cairo where he had been expected to speak. The summit concluded without the Qatari Emir speaking and no consensus was reached on a final communique among the leaders attending.
“We call for a serious regional and international stance to stop the war and stop the bloodshed and work without expanding the circle of conflict that threatens the security of the region and the world,” Sheikh Tamim said.
The Qatari leader also spoke on Tuesday about his country’s willingness to continue its role as an arbitrator in the continuing conflict.
“Qatar is a trusted mediator in peacemaking and conflict resolution, and we will continue in this approach. Openness to cultural interaction contributes to the maturity and development of our Qatari Arab Muslim identity,” Sheikh Tamim said.
A source from the Qatari government told The National that the Foreign Ministry will continue its work to negotiate the release of further hostages, adding that the focus right now is on the release of elderly female and male hostages.
“The release of the two American hostages by Hamas … came after continuous contact with all parties. Our foreign ministry is working very closely with all parties to ensure that the Qatari dialogue regarding the release of the hostages will continue in the coming days. We cannot guarantee or promise specifics at this point, but this has been an active file for the Qatari government right now,” the source told The National.
Qatar is in a position to negotiate with Hamas but faces difficulty speaking with Israel as they have not formally established ties.
Qatar recently negotiated the release of three Ukrainian children who had been taken to Russia under a mechanism it set up for similar future releases.
A source from Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said officials hope to “bank on their success of Russia and Ukraine” in playing a larger role between Israel and Hamas as the war continues.