DOHA: Diplomatic efforts intensified with Qatar playing a key role to end Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, as at least 100 Palestinians were killed yesterday, taking the toll to 438.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister,
H E Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, called the killings a massacre and said Israel must not be allowed to choose when to wage a war and when to stop.
“We condemn all atrocities perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people, said Al-Attiyah, addressing a press conference at Four Seasons Hotel, in the presence of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He said Qatar was only conveying the Palestinian demands, which he said must include the opening of Gaza’s border crossing points with Egypt and Israel.
“Consultations, discussions are still underway to have a ceasefire in place, for the reason that the Palestinian people can no long accept the long siege.”
Hamas demanded instead that any accord must include lifting a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and a return to an understanding that ended a round of fighting in 2012.
Ban condemned as an “atrocious action” the killing of dozens of Palestinians and called for an immediate end to fighting.
Ban, in Doha on the first leg of a Middle East tour to try to end the bloodshed that has cost more than 400 lives, met the Emir
H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Dr Al Attiyah before heading for Egypt.
“While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians have been killed in the Israeli military strikes... in Gaza... I condemn the atrocious action,” he said in a statement after talks with Dr Al Attiyah.
“Israel must exercise maximum restraint. I repeat my demands to all sides that they must respect international humanitarian law. The violence must stop now,” he added.
More than 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed as Israel shelled Gaza’s Shejaia neighbourhood and battled militants in the bloodiest fighting in the 13-day offensive.
In an appeal filmed in Doha, President Abbas called on the international community to protect Palestinians against what he called the current “unbearable” situation.
“The UN Security Council has failed to protect Palestinians and I call on the Council to hold an emergency meeting today (yesterday) to protect Palestinians... what Israel did today is crime against humanity,” Abbas said in the recording shown to reporters. He also called for an immediate ceasefire agreed upon in Cairo and stressed the importance of unity among all factions in the Palestinian territories.
Qatar has emerged as a possible peacemaker in the Gaza after the Islamist Hamas group, which controls the area, rejected an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire.
Hamas demanded instead that any accord must include lifting a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Strip and a return to an understanding that ended a previous round of fighting in 2012.
Hamas’s conditions also include the release of prisoners re-arrested since a 2011 exchange deal with Israel, the opening of Gaza-Israel border crossings and an end to an Israeli blockade on the Gaza seaport.
“In general, Israel must end all forms of aggression and attacks, end the blockade of Gaza and remove the actions that resulted from its military offensive in the West Bank after June 12,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in the Palestinian territories.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat echoed the demands, saying these should not been seen as conditions, but rather as a “fair” set of commitments Israel must adhere to.
“We are all united as one, we speak as Palestinian people, not as Hamas or Fatah, and we are in contact with all factions,” Erakat said, adding that Abbas had also called US Secretary of State John Kerry.Agencies