Men, women, and children queue to receive food rations from a public kitchen in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on May 13, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

GAZA – Israel’s military operation in Rafah has set truce negotiations with Hamas “backward”, mediator Qatar said on Tuesday, adding that talks have reached “almost a stalemate”.

“Especially in the past few weeks, we have seen some momentum building but unfortunately things didn’t move in the right direction and right now we are on a status of almost a stalemate,” Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told the Qatar Economic Forum.

“Of course, what happened with Rafah has set us backward.”

Qatar, which has hosted Hamas’s political office in Doha since 2012, has been engaged — along with Egypt and the United States — in months of behind-the-scenes mediation between Israel and the Palestinian militant group.

Israel continued to fight Hamas in Rafah on Monday, despite US warnings against a full-scale assault on the south Gaza city that is crowded with displaced Palestinians.

“There is no clarity how to stop the war from the Israeli side. I don’t think that they are considering this as an option… even when we are talking about the deal and leading to a potential ceasefire,” Sheikh Mohammed┬ásaid.

Israeli politicians were indicating “by their statements that they will remain there, they will continue the war. And there is no clarity on what Gaza will look like after this”, he added. – AFP