Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office, has been at the forefront of de-escalation efforts in Gaza since the onset of the latest events.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spoke with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani about growing violence in Palestine and the pressing necessity for rapid de-escalations.
“During the phone call, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to enhance and develop them. They also discussed regional and international developments of common concern, especially current developments in the Palestinian territories,” an Amiri Diwan statement on Wednesday read.
Italy’s office statement read: “Both have shared the need to work for a rapid de-escalation and support the mediation aimed at the release of the hostages.” The two sides also shared a “common concern of a further enlargement of the conflict,” it added.
The call comes just days after Hamas on Tuesday confirmed it has been in talks with Qatar, Egypt and Turkiye since the beginning of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza as part of mediation efforts, Al Araby TV reported.
A source close to Hamas separately told The New Arab on Monday that Doha “suggested implementing an urgent swap agreement between Hamas and Israel” aimed at releasing Israeli elderly women captured by Hamas.
In turn, Israel would release all Palestinian women from its jails.
Qatar’s foreign ministry confirmed to Reuters on Monday that it is involved in mediation talks that include a potential prisoner swap.
However, in a weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Majed bin Mohammed Al-Ansari, the Qatari foreign ministry spokesman, appeared to adopt a cautious approach to reports on progress being made in mediation efforts, saying the current crisis in Gaza is not “mere escalation”.
“It is a bit early to comment on any mediation efforts by Qatar or other players of the region. Qatar has had many successes in de-escalating between two parties in the past … at this moment (it is) very difficult to say that any party can start mediation.” Al-Ansari told reporters during a weekly media briefing.
He said the government’s core objective remains to harmonise international and regional responses to the aggression and consider potential peace-building interventions.
The immediate cessation of hostilities, ending the bloodshed, ensuring the safe release of detainees, and preventing this conflict from spiralling into a broader regional crisis are all central to Qatar’s peace negotiations.
Home to more than two million Palestinians, Gaza has faced an illegal Israeli air, land and sea blockade since 2007 and has been widely described as the world’s “largest open-air prison”.
On Saturday, Israel declared war and launched a brutal bombing campaign on the besieged enclave, following an unprecedented operation by Hamas to infiltrate into the occupied territories.
So far, Israel has killed more than 1,200 Palestinians since Saturday, targeting residential buildings, schools and health centres. On Thursday, the International Committee of Red Cross warned three of five water plants in Gaza are out of service due to the Israeli bombing.