Sheikh Hamad
Photo: AP

Qatar says Israel's Gaza offensive a 'war crime'

Persian Gulf principality's head says demanding Israel, Hamas hold fire simultaneously is like 'putting henchman and victim on equal footing'

US ally Qatar said on Sunday Israel's attack on Gaza amounted to a war crime and renewed calls for an emergency summit of Arab countries.


"Our (Arab) people in Gaza are subject these days to an unjust aggression which does not differentiate between children, women and old people, and between civilians and fighters," Qatar's ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said.


"A war launched with such tools (modern weapons) at such targets (refugee camps) cannot be anything other than a war crime," he said in comments aired on Al Jazeera television.


Israel's military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers has reportedly killed 500 Palestinians, including a growing number of civilians.


Israel has accused Hamas of using civilians in the Gaza Strip as "human shields", saying the Islamist group has fired rockets at Israeli towns from densely populated areas.


Regarded as a political maverick, Qatar hosts the US military's Central Command and has limited ties with Israel. At the same time, the Gulf Arab state also has close ties with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.


Sheikh Hamad said that calling on Israel and the Palestinians equally to end the violence was equivalent to "putting the henchman and the victim on an equal footing".


Arab calls for UN Security Council action to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza had failed, he added, because Arab leaders had not managed to meet to coordinate their positions.


"Moves by the Arab public opinion and world peace forces have shown what the peoples expect from us. We believe we can achieve something (at a summit) ... and that we can take measures to influence the international arena and Israel," Sheikh Hamad said.



פרסום ראשון: 01.05.09, 01:09
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