update deskMiddle East

Bahraini crown prince condemns Hamas, calls to free hostages

Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa also condemned Israel's operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in Manama, Sept. 4, 2023. Photo by Shlomi Amsalem/GPO.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in Manama, Sept. 4, 2023. Photo by Shlomi Amsalem/GPO.

Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa over the weekend “unequivocally” condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis and called on the terrorist group to release the estimated 240 hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

Addressing the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Manama Dialogue conference, which included officials from across the Middle East, the United States and Europe, the Bahraini leader said that Hamas’s actions “were barbaric, they were horrific.

“They were indiscriminate. They killed women, children, the elderly, it did not matter,” he noted.

“They hit civilian institutions and they hit military targets,” Salman added. “And on top of that, it seems it’s OK now to grab hostages and take them away and speak about it as if it’s an act of war. That is something that we condemn.

“I don’t think any Arab leader has called on Hamas to release the hostages,” he continued. “So it is a time for straight talking. It is a time when political positioning and the perpetuation of poisonous narratives and opposing narratives must no longer be our methodology.”

In order to end the current hostilities, Hamas must free the hostages whom it has held for more than six weeks in exchange for the release of female and minor terrorists held in Israeli prisons, the Bahraini leader urged.

In his speech, the prince also condemned Israel’s operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, decrying the “constant bombardment of bombs in Gaza.

“I unequivocally condemn the air campaign that resulted in the death of over 11,000 people in Gaza,” Salman said. “Both are reprehensible, both must stop, and both are things that we must deal with, with the greatest care, moving forward, because what we need to do is break the cycle.”

“This conflict didn’t start on October the 7th. This latest escalation did, but the conflict has been an ongoing open wound in the Middle East for the past 80 years,” he said.

“No real security will ever be realized until a real two-state solution is found,” claimed the crown prince.

Israel and Bahrain normalized relations in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords reached under the Trump administration, which also saw Jerusalem establish official relations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan.

Relations between Israel and Bahrain are “stable,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said earlier this month, amid reports that Manama recalled its ambassador.

Jerusalem did not receive any “announcement or decision from the Bahraini government to recall the countries’ ambassadors,” the ministry said.

The Israeli embassy in Bahrain was evacuated for security reasons in October, after being inaugurated by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in early September.

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