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Qatar brokers deal to reopen main Gaza crossing for Palestinian workers after weeks of Israeli violence

Israel closed the Erez crossing two weeks ago, leading to protests along the Gaza border.

Qatar has stepped in to mediate a deal that paved the way to the reopening of Gaza’s main crossing for Palestinian workers following weeks of tensions with Israel, a top official said on Thursday.

“Qatar has worked and succeeded in de-escalating the situation in the Gaza Strip by mediating an understanding to reopen the Erez crossing for Palestinian workers,” Qatari Ambassador Mohammed Al Emadi told Fox News.

Gaza has faced weeks of Israeli violence along the separation fence where Palestinians have led mass protests Israel’s closure of the Erez crossing. Around 18,000 Gazans rely on the land port to access their jobs in occupied areas.

GAZA: Thousands of Palestinian workers arrived to the Erez Crossing after Israel opened the border following a 10-day closure.

Around 18,000 Gazans have permits to work in Israel.

— Hamdah Salhut (@hamdahsalhut) September 28, 2023

Israel responded to the demonstrations with air strikes, tanks and live fire, injuring dozens of protesters throughout the escalations. Analysts had drawn links between the recent protests and similar demonstrations in 2018 and 2019, widely known as the ‘Great March of Return’, during which the IOF killed more than 350 Palestinians. 

On Thursday, the crossing finally reopened to allow Palestinians through to the West Bank region for employment purposes.

“Qatar will spare no efforts in supporting the Palestinian people through diplomacy and developmental initiatives until they achieve their aspirations for statehood and prosperity,” El-Emadi added.

Cairo, which shares diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv, and Doha—the host of Hamas’ political office—have been at the forefront of de-escalation efforts in the Gaza Strip. Both parties have mediated a number of ceasefires that have brought to an end numerous Israeli bombardments of the city in recent years.

Gaza was subjected to a deadly Israeli bombing campaign between 8 to 13 May, in which the IOF killed 33 Palestinians, including children. The five-day brutal aggression ended following intensive discussions between Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations.

This year has already been the deadliest for Palestinians since 2006, when the UN began counting deaths. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the start of the year, per figures shared by Palestine’s health ministry.

Last week, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani dedicated a large portion of his speech before the UN General Assembly to highlight the need to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

“If we truthfully constitute an international community, and not a merely diverse entities, it must be our duty to strive towards ending the injustice afflicting them, at least in accordance with what is required by the resolutions of this body, and entailed by international law,” Amir Tamim told world powers at the UN.

Sheikh Tamim added that “it is not acceptable for the Palestinian people to remain prisoners of the Israeli settler occupation arbitrariness.”

“You have to bear in mind that the failure of the international organisation to take actions against the occupation provided and continues to provide the opportunity for Israel to undermine the foundations of the two-state solution by means of settlement expansion until the occupation has brazenly taken the form of an apartheid regime in the broad daylight of the twenty-first century,” the Qatari leader noted.