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Middle East conflict

Talks over Gaza ceasefire at stalemate after Rafah operation, Qatar PM says

Talks over Gaza ceasefire at stalemate after Rafah operation, Qatar PM says
Israeli tanks manoeuvre, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza Border May 14, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

DOHA, May 14 (Reuters) - Talks over a ceasefire in Gaza have reached a stalemate due to Israel's operations in the southern border city of Rafah, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on Tuesday.

Israeli operations in Rafah, which started this month, have closed a main crossing point for aid from the border with Egypt, a move humanitarian groups say has worsened an already dire situation.

“Especially in the past few weeks, we have seen some momentum building but unfortunately, things didn’t move in the right direction and right now we are in a status of almost a stalemate. Of course, what happened with Rafah sent us backward,” Sheikh Mohammed said at an economic forum in Doha.

Israeli tanks forged deeper into eastern Rafah, reaching some residential districts, on Tuesday, stepping up an offensive in the city where more than a million people had been sheltering after being displaced in seven months of war.

Sheikh Mohammed, whose country has mediated heavily between Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel throughout the seven-month conflict, said Qatar would keep working to resolve the situation.

“We make it very clear for everyone: our job is limited to our mediation,” he said. “That’s what we will do, that what we will continue to do.”

Sheikh Mohammed said the fundamental difference between the two parties was over the release of hostages and ending the war.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, say health officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave. The war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and abducting 252, of whom 133 are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

“There is one party that wants to end the war and then talk about the hostages and there is another party who wants the hostages and wants to continue the war. As long as there is not any commonality between those two things it won’t get us to a result,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Sheikh Mohammed warned that even should the war stop, with no clear rescue plan for Gaza, there was a risk of growing radicalisation in the medium term.

“We are very much worried after all these images to see another wave of radicalisation. So security is the key for us in the region. We need to preserve it as much as possible.”

(Reporting by Andrew Mills and Hadeel Al Sayegh; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Maha El Dahan, Ed Osmond and Nick Macfie)

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Agf Agf says:

    It’s been said before but bears repeating: if Hamas were to surrender, then the war would be over. The fact that they won’t surrender is evidence that they do not care a damn for the people of Gaza. In turn, the said people of Gaza could rise up and overthrow Hamas but it seems they are not willing to do this either.

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