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Families of 6 kidnapped Israelis travel to Qatar in effort to restart hostage negotiations with Hamas

Illustrative - Israelis released from Hamas captivity in Gaza and families of Israelis still being held hostage attend a press conference for the foreign media in Kibbutz Be'eri near the Israeli-Gaza border, Jan. 1, 2024. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israeli relatives of six hostages who are currently being held by the terror group Hamas in Gaza arrived in Qatar on Friday to potentially facilitate a new hostage deal.

Israeli media reported the Israeli families were scheduled to meet both U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al Thani.

Unlike the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Qatar currently does not have any official diplomatic relations with Israel, however, due to its financial support of Gaza, Qatar is considered a key player in any potential hostage deal that would secure the release of more hostages.

Senior Israeli officials, including Mossad chief David Barnea, have held high-level meetings with Qatari officials in recent months in an effort to secure the release of more hostages. 

In late November, during a brief ceasefire period, Hamas released some 100 Israeli and foreign national hostages held in Gaza, the majority of whom were women, children, and elderly.

In exchange, Israel released Palestinian security prisoners from Israeli jails.

Qatar reportedly facilitated the agreement.

However, the fragile ceasefire collapsed after Hamas reportedly refused to release all the remaining Israel female hostages and children. 

Hamas terrorists and their operatives kidnapped some 240 Israeli and international hostages on Oct. 7, when they invaded Israel and massacred more than 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians.

The Gazan terror group and its allies are believed to still hold more than 130 hostages in Gaza, mostly males, including some IDF soldiers, some of whom have already been killed.

In December, senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told the Qatari news network Al Jazeera that the terror group demanded: “a total ceasefire and a retreat of the Israeli occupation army from the Gaza Strip are a precondition for any serious negotiation.”

The senior Lebanon-based terrorist stressed that Hamas was only interested in a longer-term ceasefire. 

“Some people are looking for a small pause — a pause here and there for one week, two weeks, three weeks,” Hamad stated.

“But we want to stop the aggression [completely],” the Hamas terrorist stressed, referring to the ongoing Israeli counter-terrorism operation against Hamas, which launched the war on Oct. 7.

Hamas later reportedly softened its demands after realizing that the Israeli forces would not retreat from Gaza any time soon. 

On Jan. 2, top Hamas terror commander Saleh al-Arouri was killed in the Lebanese capital Beirut in a drone attack attributed to Israel.

Arouri was considered one of the main architects of the Oct. 7 massacres. Even before the latest Hamas aggression, Arouri had been responsible for numerous terror attacks against Israel, especially in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank. 

Hamas and its ally Hezbollah have vowed revenge for the killing of Arouri. In addition, Hamas officials also decided to freeze indirect hostage negotiations with Israel for the time being.

Hamas is under intense pressure due to the ongoing Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip that have decimated much of the terror group’s military capabilities. Increasingly fearing for their lives, Hamas leaders are likely looking for a possibility to strike a new hostage deal that could save their lives through Qatari intervention.

An unnamed Israeli official argued on Wednesday that Qatar’s decision not to comment on the Arouri assassination in public was a positive sign for future hostage negotiations. 

“If they don’t announce anything, that is ultimately something optimistic,” the Israeli official assessed. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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