As hopes were rising that a deal was being negotiated for the release of at least some of the hostages held by Hamas, a silent protest was being held in central London, outside Harrods.
The department store has been owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, since May 2010, and the activists’ aims were to put pressure on Qatar to continue to work to secure a deal, as well as to keep awareness of the hostages in everyone’s minds.
The protesters stood for 30 minutes, their mouths taped shut to symbolise the taking away of the hostages’ voices. They held up posters of the Israelis and foreign citizens, about 240 in total, who were violently abducted and taken into Gaza on 7 October. Dmitri Krasik, one of the organisers of Thursday evening’s protest in Knightsbridge, said: “Qatar has the ability to be a peacemaker of the maker of widows and orphans.”
Qatar hosts Hamas’ leadership and is known to have been one of the main financial backers of the government of Gaza, channelling about $10m a month to the terrorist organisation. However, Qatar is also an ally of the United States and is brokering the talks between Israel and Hamas.
This week Qatari mediators were seeking a deal that would include the release of about 50 civilian hostages in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, Reuters has reported. As part of the deal, some Palestinian women and children would be freed from Israeli jails and more humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza.
Thursday’s protest ended with chants of ‘bring them home’ and singing of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.
Harrods has been invited to comment.
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