The ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza is increasingly jeopardizing the prospects of establishing a new truce, as stated by the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. Speaking at the Doha Forum, Sheikh Mohammed emphasized Qatar's continued dedication to mediating a ceasefire between the conflicting parties.
Qatar, having played a pivotal role in negotiating a week-long cessation of hostilities in late November, which facilitated the release of hostages, remains a crucial player in these efforts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, painted a different picture.
On Sunday, he declared, "the war is in full swing." He highlighted the recent surrender of "dozens of Hamas terrorists," indicating a significant turn in the conflict. "This is the beginning of the end for Hamas," Netanyahu asserted, signaling a potential escalation rather than a move towards peace.
Humanitarian Crisis and International Response
As the conflict continues, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating. According to reports from the Hamas-run health agency in Gaza on Sunday, the death toll among Palestinians has reached nearly 18,000.
In a stark response, Hamas's armed wing, in an audio message to Al Jazeera, claimed that the temporary ceasefire had demonstrated its effectiveness. However, they insisted that no further hostages would be released until Israel engages in direct talks.
The message from Hamas's spokesman, Abu Ubaida, also claimed substantial damage inflicted on Israeli military resources, including the destruction of 180 military vehicles and significant casualties among Israeli soldiers.
"What is coming is greater," warned Ubaida, hinting at the potential for further escalation. At the Doha Forum, the dire situation in Gaza was further underscored by Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees), who described the region as "hell on earth" and the current crisis as the worst he has ever seen.
Adding to the chorus of international concern, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned Israel's actions, accusing it of violating international humanitarian law and calling for international sanctions. Representing the Palestinian Authority, which operates in the West Bank and is separate from the Hamas-led government in Gaza, Shtayyeh's remarks underscore the complex political landscape surrounding the conflict.