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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Palestinian PM Shtayyeh in Qatar for Gaza reconstruction talks

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Al Jazeera’s investigative show held an exclusive interview with Palestinian resistance group Al Qassam.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh landed in Qatar on Sunday for Gaza reconstruction talks, Anadolu Agency [AA] reported.

Shtayyeh and his delegation were received by Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi and the Palestinian Ambassador to Qatar Munir Abdullah Ghannam.

The delegation also includes Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki and government spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem.

According to the Palestinian news agency [WAFA], among the topics on the agenda is the urgent need for a political solution to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Gaza reconstruction as well as Qatar’s aid to the besieged city.

WAFA added that Shtayyeh and his delegation are also set to discuss enhancing trade between the two countries.

The visit comes following reports of Tel Aviv’s refusal to allow the entry of Qatari aid into the besieged seaside territory, prompting Hamas to warn it would revive the Great Return March border fence protests if aid does not enter Gaza by next week.

Israel accuses Qatar of funding Hamas in Gaza, which it views as a terrorist organisation. In recent weeks, senior Qatari officials as well as Hamas leaders have vehemently refuted those claims.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh  Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani dismissed such claims by saying “Palestinians are not only Hamas”.
“We cannot reduce the Palestinian people living under occupation and consolidate them in just one group. There are 2.1 million people living in Gaza who are in desperate humanitarian need, there are people who are suffering and suffered from this war, there have been a lot of children killed in the war,” the official said in an interview with MSNBC last month.
“I don’t think $100 per family who are in a difficult humanitarian need is a contribution to produce missiles or any weapons or supporting a group which lives there because of circumstances,” added Al Thani.

Al-Qassam interview

Also on Sunday, Al Jazeera aired an exclusive interview with an official from the Palestinian Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, a Hamas military wing, as part of its investigative series ‘What’s Hidden is More Immense’ [Ma Khofiya A’atham].

The episode, titled “In the Grip of Resistance”, Al-Qassam leader Marwan Issa revealed details about Israeli prisoners captured by the brigade during the 2006 and 2014 wars on Gaza, which it said was an essential bargaining chip to secure prisoner exchange deals.

Read also: Hamas warns of mass border protests if Israel blocks Qatar aid into Gaza

The episode also presented a voice note by an Israeli soldier captured by Al Qassam in 2014 in which he pleads with Tel Aviv’s government to facilitate his release.

“I wonder, do the leaders of the state differentiate between the captured soldiers? Do they talk about them and work for their release?” he said during the first voice recording to be publicly shared by Al-Qassam.

Israel’s security office said it is currently investigating the voice recording.

Al-Qassam currently has four Israeli soldiers in its custody, two of which it captured during the 2014 Gaza offensive, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. The two others were dismissed from their duties though entered Gaza “under unclear circumstances”.

Read also: Qatar Twitter users reacts to Israeli arrest of prominent Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah activists

Israel claims the 2014 members were “killed during the war” and Al-Qassam is only in possession of their bodies. The episode also revealed exclusive footage of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Al-Qassaam in 2006 in an operation that saw the fighters slip through a tunnel behind “enemy lines” and kill two soldiers.

Footage aired by Al Jazeera showed Shalit enjoying a meal in the custody of Al-Qassam, getting access to physical training equipment and maintaining what appears to be a healthy appearance.

Gerhard Konrad, the German officer of the Federal Intelligence Service and mediator in the prisoner exchange deal, also told Al Jazeera that he worked on fast tracking the release the Israeli prisoners upon request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The mediation was effective at the time and resulted in Hamas agreeing to hand over a recording of the Israeli soldier in exchange for the release of 20 Palestinian women held by occupation forces.

The broadcast of the the show on Al Jazeera triggered a flurry of tweets on Twitter where users drew comparisons between the harsh conditions Palestinian prisoners go through under Israeli imprisonment and those of soldiers in Hamas custody.

 


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