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Posted On: 16 January 2009 04:18 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Call for Gaza fund

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The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani called yesterday for Arab countries to create a fund for Gaza’s reconstruction following 20 days of Israeli shelling that has left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins. The Emir pledged Qatar would contribute $250m to the fund. In a televised address overnight, he also called on Arab nations to reconsider their diplomatic ties with Israel in response to the Israeli attacks that so far have killed more than 1,100 people in the Hamas-run territory while a further 5,130 people have been wounded. The Emir repeated his invitation for Arab countries to hold an extraordinary summit in Doha today to discuss the Gaza onslaught, the fourth such plea since December 28. If the Doha summit goes ahead, the Emir pledged to make a number of propositions to “stop the bloodshed” of Palestinians in Gaza. His ideas include “freezing the Arab peace initiative and the suspension of all forms of normalisation with Israel, including the reconsideration of diplomatic ties.” The Saudi-proposed Arab peace initiative, adopted at Arab summits in 2002 and again in 2007, offers Israel normalisation of relations and comprehensive peace agreements with Arab countries in exchange for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all the territories it has occupied since 1967. Israel has never agreed to this initiative, though it says the plan has positive elements. The Emir also suggested the creation of a “maritime bridge” to transfer humanitarian aid to the battered territory. “We have not called a summit to prepare Arab armies for a war against Israel,” the Emir said in his address. “We are not dreaming,” he added. Qatar’s envoy blasted Israel for perpetrating war crimes in Gaza and called on world powers to pressure the Jewish state into accepting a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. Speaking before the 15-nation body at UN headquarters, Abdulaziz Al Nasr, Qatar’s ambassador to the world body, castigated the “Israeli war machine (which) targets everybody and does not discriminate among its victims.” “The Palestinian civilian population in Gaza is subject, on a daily basis, to relentless military attacks by Israel, the occupying power,” Al Nasr said. “Entire families have been killed or buried alive under the rubble of their homes,” he said on Wednesday. “Those who managed to survive suffer psychological trauma that would live with them for the rest of their lives. Others who suffered serious injuries have become mentally and physically disabled.”