Israel-Palestine: Qatar working to ‘de-escalate situation’

Qatari official says Gulf country in touch with both sides ‘in the context of its role as a mediator’.

A woman prays as Palestinian Muslims attend Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City.
A woman prays on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

A Qatar official has said the Gulf state is acting as a mediator to reduce tensions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

For two nights in a row since Wednesday, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, firing stun grenades and attacking Palestinians as they gathered for Ramadan prayers.

Police beat worshippers, doused the mosque area with tear gas, and shot rubber-coated steel bullets at people.

Qatar condemned the Israeli raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the attacks on Palestinian worshippers, calling them “brutal, criminal practices”, according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“In the context of its role as a mediator, the State of Qatar is working to de-escalate the situation on all sides, with the latest contact being noon today,” a Qatari official was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency on Friday.

On Friday, tensions soared as Israel attacked several sites in southern Lebanon, and in the besieged Gaza Strip, where missiles damaged homes and a children’s hospital.

Two people were killed when gunmen opened fire on a vehicle in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

On Friday evening, at least one person was killed and four wounded in what Israeli authorities said was an attack in Tel Aviv.

A car rammed into a group of people near a popular seaside park before flipping over, police said. Israel’s rescue service said a 30-year-old man was killed.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies