ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Qatar’s emir, who visited Gaza earlier this month, said in comments broadcast on Sunday that Israel should lift its siege of the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with the Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani also said Israel would not halt its offensive in Gaza unless it met strong resistance.
“The nature of Israel means that it will not stop its aggression unless there is firm resistance like what happened in Gaza and with Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the south,” he said.
The offensive that started last Wednesday has killed 69 Palestinians, 11 of them on Sunday when an Israeli missile flattened the home of one family. More than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three civilians and wounding dozens.
The emir was in Cairo on Saturday where he held talks about Gaza with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi. The tiny Gulf emirate has carved a role for itself as a major player in both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Syrian civil war.
Sheikh Hamad, who had previously suggested Arab forces should intervene in Syria to bring an end to bloodshed, said in the interview he thought the situation had now gone beyond that point.
“Now sending Arab troops is difficult but if from the beginning the idea of Arab troops had been accepted to prevent bloodshed it would have been better,” he said.
Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, has strongly supported the mainly Muslim Sunni Syrian rebels while Shi‘ite Iran backs President Bashar al-Assad.
Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Stephen Powell