The leaders of Qatar and Egypt met in Cairo on Friday, both hoping to mediate a de-escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, the provision of humanitarian aid and the release of Israeli hostages.
The talks between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani discussed intensified efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and the delivery of sufficient quantities of aid for its 2.3 million besieged residents, a statement from Sisi’s office said.
Qatar said “joint efforts to stop the aggression against Gaza, reduce escalation and bring in urgent humanitarian aid” were discussed.
The Qatari emir’s visit comes a day after Qatar’s prime minister met the chiefs of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israeli spy agency Mossad in Doha to discuss the parameters of a deal for a hostage release and a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Qatar, where several Hamas political leaders are based, has been leading mediation between the Palestinian militant group and Israeli officials for the release of more than 240 hostages taken by Hamas militants on Oct. 7, in an attack in which Israel says 1,400 people were killed.
Since then Israel has launched an unrelenting bombardment and an armoured invasion of Hamas-ruled Gaza, where more than 10,000 people have been killed, according to Palestinian officials.
Egypt also has contacts with Hamas and Israel and has been involved in negotiations, including for the provision of aid through its Rafah border crossing with Gaza and the evacuation from the territory of foreign passport holders and some Palestinians requiring urgent medical treatment.
Evacuations through Rafah restarted on Thursday following a pause after the Red Cross said one of its convoys escorting evacuees was targeted inside Gaza.
The United Nations said 65 aid trucks entered Gaza from Egypt on Thursday, well below the number needed to address a deepening humanitarian crisis.
The United States said on Thursday that Israel had agreed to daily four-hour pauses in the north of Gaza and the operation of corridors for civilians to move south, though there was no sign of a let-up in the fighting.