Sheikh Hamad calls for mutual ceasefire in Gaza, end to Israeli blockade of the besieged Strip.
Click to view image: 'Sheikh_Hamad' Sheikh Hamad: 'horrors befalling the Gaza Strip'
DOHA - The emir of Qatar, the only Gulf Arab monarchy to have trade relations with Israel, accused the Jewish state of committing a "war crime" in Gaza and renewed a call for an extraordinary Arab summit.
"The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip is a war crime," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said late Sunday in a televised address.
He renewed an earlier call on fellow Arab leaders to hold an extraordinary summit in support of Gaza, as Israel escalated its offensive on the territory which has killed more than 515 Palestinians.
"The mobilisation on the Arab street and several peace movements in the world have proven that this is the least the people expect from us. I believed and still do that we can do something," the emir said.
"The horrors befalling the Gaza Strip oblige the (Arab) nation and its leaders to move," he added.
Al-Thani also said that "calls for a mutual ceasefire treat the culprit and the victim as equal and justify the aggression." He demanded equally "an end to the (Israeli) blockade and the opening of all crossing points" to Gaza.
The Qatari leader had first called for an extraordinary Arab summit in late December when Israel launched air strikes on the impoverished territory, home to about 1.5 million Palestinians.
Qatar maintains contacts with Israel despite the absence of diplomatic relations and has since 1996 housed an Israeli trade office, the only one in the world's oil exporting region.
Arab governments are divided in their stance towards the crisis, as they are pressured by their populations to do something to help the Palestinian people and their democratically elected Hamas on one hand, and US pressure to remain silent, on the other.
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