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Israel far-right minister slams Qatar over Hamas attack

Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Thursday accused Qatar, a key mediator in efforts to free its hostages, of being responsible for the October 7 Hamas attack.


His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was caught on tape allegedly telling hostages’ families this week that Qatar’s mediation was “problematic” when it came to resolving the hostage crisis.

Qatar is the “patron of Hamas and is largely responsible for the massacre committed by Hamas of Israeli citizens”, Smotrich said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Qatar is a country that supports terrorism and finances terrorism.”

Smotrich accused Western governments of being “hypocritical” in maintaining close relations with Doha.

“The West can and should exert much stronger leverage on it and bring about the release of the hostages immediately,” he said.

“One thing is clear: Qatar will not be involved one bit in what happens in Gaza the day after the war.”

Qatar and Egypt have acted as mediators in the conflict since it erupted after the Hamas attack. In November, they helped broker a week-long truce that saw the release of 105 hostages, the Israelis among them in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Smotrich’s remarks come as US President Joe Biden’s Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was in the region for talks aimed at brokering a new deal to free the remaining captives in exchange for a pause in fighting.

A Palestinian source familiar with the talks said a Hamas delegation had travelled to Cairo on Tuesday to meet Egypt’s intelligence chief and discuss new ceasefire proposals.

On Wednesday, Qatar said it was “appalled” by the remarks attributed to Netanyahu.

“These remarks, if validated, are irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives, but are not surprising,” Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said on X.

The Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants, who targeted communities in southern Israel, also abducted about 250 hostages during the attack.

Some 132 of them are still held captive in Gaza, including 28 bodies of hostages believed to have been killed, according to an AFP tally based on figures provided by Israeli officials.

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