As of Sunday morning, at least 256 Palestinians, including 20 children, have been killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
Qatar held a number of phone calls with top diplomats from the United States and a number of regional countries on Saturday as Israel declared war and launched a massive bombardment campaign targeting the besieged Gaza Strip.
Calls were made between Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and foreign ministers from the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkiye, according to several statements from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They said Sheikh Mohammed expressed Doha’s “deep concern about the escalation of violence between the two sides, stressing the need to exercise utmost restraint.”
“His Excellency [Sheikh Mohammed] also stressed the need for the two countries to combine their efforts to calm the situation, reduce the escalation and spare civilians the consequences of the confrontations,” the three statements said.
Separately, the US State Department issued a statement on the call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the senior Qatari diplomat and said both states “agreed to remain closely coordinated”.
The US, which has long failed to condemn Israel’s attacks on Palestinians and annually pumps $3 billion into Israel’s economy, stressed Israel’s right to self defence during the latest escalations.
“The Secretary reiterated Israel’s right to self-defence and called for coordinated efforts to achieve an immediate halt to the violent attacks by Hamas terrorists and other militants. The two agreed to remain closely coordinated,” the US State Department statement said.
In a press conference late on Saturday, US President Joe Biden vowed to stand by Israel’s side, describing his support as “rock solid and unwavering.”
“I’ve also directed my team to remain in constant contact with leaders throughout the region, including Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, the UAE, as well as with our European partners and the Palestinian Authority,” Biden added.
The conversations between the officials come amid a violent Israeli escalation in Gaza after the former ordered a full-scale war on the besieged city on Saturday following the biggest Palestinian attack on Israel in years.
Palestine’s ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ was carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, killing at least 300 in Israel.
During the major operation, Palestinians managed to break out of the fences separating Gaza and territories occupied by Israel for the first time in decades, mainly targeting the city of Sderot.
Palestinian fighters managed to capture at least 35 Israeli’s in addition to vehicles belonging to the Israeli occupation forces (IOF).
Hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to turn Gaza into a “deserted island” before launching a deadly bombardment that mainly targeted residential buildings.
A viral video from a live Al Jazeera broadcast from Gaza documented Israel’s destruction of an entire residential building.
As of Sunday morning, Palestine’s Wafa news agency put the death toll in Gaza at 256, including 20 children.
Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades vowed to continue with “fierce clashes” in several cities inside Israel. Lebanon’s Hezbollah has also carried out an attack on an Israeli military site in Shebaa Farms, which was shortly followed by an Israeli response.
The latest developments come following intensified Israeli attacks on Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the repeated settler storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque in an attempt to change the status-quo of the holy Muslim site.
In a statement on Saturday, Qatar said it holds the Israeli occupation “solely” responsible for the ongoing flare ups while expressing its “deep concern” on the developments in Gaza.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds Israel alone responsible for the ongoing escalation due to its ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, the latest of which is the repeated raids on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli police,” the statement said.
Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in a bloody war in 1967, widely known as “the six-day war” or the Naksa, which translates to the “setback”.
Within six days, the Zionist state captured the majority of Palestine while forcibly displacing at least 300,000 Palestinians.
Saturday’s operation by Hamas, Gaza’s ruling party, is widely seen as a historic moment for Palestine, which has been living under Israeli occupation for 75 years.
Home two 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”.
Palestinians under siege live with limited electricity and water supplies while patients with severe illnesses struggle to exit the city for treatment as they require Israeli permits.
Gaza regularly faces deadly Israeli bombardments.
Between 8 to 13 May this year, the IOF killed 33 Palestinians, including children. The five-day brutal aggression ended following intensive discussions between Qatar and Egypt.
Cairo, which shares diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv, and Doha—the host of Hamas’ political office—have been at the forefront of recent de-escalation efforts in the Gaza Strip.