The Gulf state dispatched its first aid flight to Egypt’s El Arish International Airport on Monday.
Egyptian President Abdelfattah El-Sisi invited Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to a summit to address ongoing developments in Gaza, where a devastating Israeli offensive has killed more than 2,800 Palestinians.
An Amiri Diwan statement confirmed Sheikh Tamim received the invite in a written message from President Sisi for the summit, scheduled to take place on 21 October.
On Sunday, Sisi called for an international meeting to address the devastating developments on the ground during a national security council meeting.
Cairo is among a number of regional countries at the forefront of de-escalation efforts to contain the flare-up in violence. Over the past week, Egypt has held intensified discussions with its regional partners, chief of which is Qatar.
Doha and Cairo have previously come together to mediate on a number of ceasefires during past Israeli attacks on Gaza. However, top Qatari officials have pointed to the severity of recent events, noting they are not “mere escalations”. Within 10 days, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have killed at least 2,808 Palestinians, including at least 800 children, and wounded more than 11,000 others.
President Sisi met with the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday as part of the latter’s regional tour that included Israel, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
During the meeting, the Egyptian president told Blinken that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza “exceeded the right to self-defence” and has now turned into “collective punishment”.
The bold statements came amid discussions over the possible opening of the Rafah Crossing, which Egypt shares with Gaza. The crucial border crossing is the only portal into Gaza that is not controlled by Israel.
However, it has been shut since Israeli attacks on Rafah last week.
First Qatari aid flight
Last week, Egypt called on potential donors to deliver aid to the airport in El Arish, where other aid flights have already landed. The supplies are due to be delivered from there to authorities in Gaza via the Rafah Border crossing.
On Monday, Qatar joined the international community in delivering aid to Gaza by dispatching the first out three Qatar Emiri Air Force flights to Egypt’s El Arish International Airport in Sinai, carrying 37 tonnes of aid.
The aid supplies come as Gaza faces a worsening humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Israeli bombardment of the city.
The difficulty of sending urgent aid to Gaza comes as the enclave faces a complete Israeli siege that has prevented millions from accessing water, electricity and food. Many grocery stores have been targeted by the IOF or forced to shut down after running out of supplies.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country initially sought to keep the Rafah crossing open, but Israel had prevented it from its side.
On the same day, Egyptian media reported that Cairo had denied a US request to open the Rafah crossing for foreign nationals only without enabling the safe passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The Egyptian refusal came after reported talks between the US, Qatar, and Israel to open the Rafah crossing to allow for much-needed aid to enter Gaza as it faces a complete blockade by the occupying state.
“We have been trying to facilitate access for it to be open from 12 to five today. The Egyptians, the Israelis and the Qataris have been working with us on that,” a US State Department official told reporters on Saturday, as quoted by Reuters.
‘Unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe’
Meanwhile, the United Nations sounded the alarm over “an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” in the besieged Gaza Strip, warning that more than two million people in Gaza are facing a life-threatening lack of basic resources.
“In fact, an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding under our eyes,” Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said.
He added that “there is not one drop of water, not one grain of wheat, not a litre of fuel that has been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the last eight days.”
The UNRWA official warned that Gaza is currently “being strangled” and pointed to an overwhelming exodus of Palestinians across the city.
“If we look at the issue of water — we all know water is life — Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life,” Lazzarini told the press in Jerusalem.
Since last week, the IOF has mainly targeted residential buildings, hospitals, and schools while wiping out at least 47 families from the public registry.
The UN warned that Gaza’s hospitals are losing the last remaining fuel reserves within the next 24 hours, with backup generators also shutting down.
The IOF has been seen positioning tanks along the Gaza border in what has been described as the “largest pull-up of Israeli reservists in Israel’s history” amid plans of a full-scale ground invasion.