Increasingly persistent hostage deal rumors Why Qatar39s role is vital

Increasingly persistent hostage deal rumors: Why Qatar's role is vital

The war has reached its 112th day. Extreme caution is advised, but rumors are growing that there could be a glimmer of hope for a possible ceasefire in Gaza, linked to the release of the Israeli hostages. As reported yesterday on the website of the leading progressive Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel and Hamas are close to a fundamental agreement: This would include a 35-day pause in fighting and the release of Palestinian prisoners. To facilitate an agreement, US President Joe Biden has decided to send the head of the CIA, William Burns, to negotiate with high-ranking officials from Israel, Egypt and Qatar, according to the Washington Post.

The real unresolved question is whether the agreement declares a full ceasefire, a request from Hamas that Israel currently rejects. According to leading observers, a ceasefire is the real prerequisite for reducing the conflict.

The role of Qatar

“Qatar has been a fundamental, integral and irreplaceable regional partner” for the United States since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas on October 7, US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said in the final hours. Patel's comments came at a news conference in response to a question about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Qatar's role in mediating efforts to secure the return of Israeli hostages from the Gaza Strip “problematic.”

Along with the United States, Qatar and Egypt are the two most important mediators between Israel and Hamas and facilitated the first fragile ceasefire and the release of dozens of hostages in November. However, in recent days, tensions between Qatar and Benjamin Netanyahu have reached unprecedented levels after an audio was released in which the Israeli prime minister criticized Doha during a meeting with the families of the hostages and defined the role of the mediator of the small emirate. Qatar said it was “shocked” by the comments attributed to Netanyahu. But what did the Israeli prime minister really say?

Qatar and Hamas: Registration at the Center of Controversy

A few days ago, Israeli television aired a recording of Netanyahu saying to the hostages' families: “You can't hear me thanking Qatar. They have power because they finance.” [Hamas]” He adds. “Because for me it is not fundamentally different from the UN or the Red Cross, and in some ways it is even more problematic: I have no illusions about them. But I'm now ready to use any actor to help me bring it home [gli ostaggi]”added the Prime Minister.

Qatar said the comments were “irresponsible” but “not surprising” if they were true. The small Gulf emirate has had high-level contacts with Israel since the 1990s but has never formally established diplomatic relations. Qatar has long supported the Palestinian cause and is home to the political leaders of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries. Doha has also provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Gaza, which has been under a crippling blockade by Israel and Egypt since 2006, when Hamas won parliamentary elections. The blockade was tightened the following year when Hamas strengthened its power in Gaza by overthrowing the Palestinian Authority.

Since 2018, Israeli governments have allowed Qatar to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of officials in the Gaza Strip government, provide financial support to the poorest families and finance fuel deliveries for the territory's only power plant. Qatar insists that the funding was always for civilian and humanitarian purposes only. In Israel, some critical voices warned that it was helping Hamas stay in power and finance its military activities.

After cross-border attacks in southern Israel on October 7 that killed around 1,300 people and sent another 250 back to Gaza as hostages, Qatar dismissed allegations that it had also sponsored payments to strengthen Hamas as a “big lie.” Costs of the Palestinian Authority.

Qatar used its ties with Hamas to negotiate a week-long pause in fighting in late November, during which 105 Israeli and foreign hostages were released in exchange for about 240 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons. The emirate has been trying to negotiate a new ceasefire for weeks as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepens and the Israeli government faces growing internal pressure to do everything it can to secure the release of hostages remaining in Gaza.

In Gaza there are hospitals without food, narcotics and painkillers

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claims: “Hamas is collapsing in the tunnels it has dug. The shelters it thought were safe have turned into traps.” At a meeting in Gaza with units involved in the systematic destruction of the tunnels, Gallant added that the war would continue for a long time, “but Hamas has no reserves, it does not know where to find weapons and ammunition, it is unable to treat the wounded: it is an outlier.

Al Jazeera reports that Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis has run out of food, anesthetics and painkillers. “The health and humanitarian situation in the hospital is extremely catastrophic. According to Save the Children, at least 11,500 children have been killed in Gaza since October 7. Since October 7, more than 25,000 people have died in the Strip, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, people continue to die. According to Arabic broadcaster Al Jazeera, at least eleven people were killed this evening in an Israeli airstrike on a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip. Among the victims were a well-known Palestinian journalist and some members of his family.