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Mossad director in Qatar to negotiate extended truce, secure release of more Israeli hostages

Israel aims to include soldiers and older men in the release agreement

BatSheva Yahalomi welcomes her son Eitan home after being released by Hamas. (Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson)

Israel's director of the Mossad, David Barnea, visited Qatar on Tuesday, amid intense negotiations between Israel, Hamas and the mediators in Qatar, Egypt and the United States to further extend the existing truce agreement.

Mossad Chief Barnea wants to establish and strengthen the mediation mechanisms between the parties to lay a solid foundation for future transactions. Israel believes it is possible to extend the truce by several days and that Hamas has the ability to release additional hostages beyond what it has admitted so far.

Hamas repeatedly claims to not know the exact locations of many of the hostages being held in Gaza as a reason to extend the truce, as it would give them more time to search for the hostages, the terror group claims.

Israel’s main objective is to extend the pause in fighting to secure the release of more hostages, as well as to broaden the category of hostages available for release to potentially include men and IDF soldiers, according to Israel's Kan news outlet.

As of Monday, Hamas has freed 50 Israelis – mostly women and children – who were kidnapped during the massacre of Oct. 7.

In addition to Israel’s spy chief, CIA director William J. Burns also arrived in the Gulf country to lead the negotiations on the American side.

America's goal is reportedly to substantially expand the deal to extend the ceasefire and, in return, receive the assurance that men and soldiers would also be freed from captivity. In addition, Burns will press for the release of the 8 or 9 remaining American hostages, the Washington Post reported.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that the priority of the negotiations is on “the release of the children and women, and later the turn of the soldiers will come.”

Egypt and Qatar are leading “relentless efforts” to reach a more permanent ceasefire, according to Reuters on Tuesday.

Qatari spokesman Majid al-Ansari noted that while Hamas confirmed to Qatar that it could release additional hostages, “there will be intense efforts to reach the extension of the truce.”

“We are working to strengthen the Qatari mediation role in reaching a truce and then a permanent cease-fire,” al-Ansari confirmed.

Hamas officials had mentioned the possibility of releasing kidnapped IDF soldiers for the first time on Tuesday, indicating that, in return, they would demand a longer pause in the fighting or even a complete end to Israel’s military ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

“From the first day, we said we were ready to negotiate regarding the kidnapped soldiers - in exchange for the cessation of aggression. At the appropriate time, we will be ready to enter into negotiations regarding them but this issue has not yet been opened. Soldiers have a different price than civilians,” Hamas leader Izzat al-Rishk told the Qatari Al-Arabi news channel.

The deputy leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group, Muhammad al-Hindi, said the PIJ would only consider releasing IDF soldiers in a comprehensive soldiers-for-prisoners deal.

“We in the Palestinian factions are ready to start the deal from now on, everything for everything,” al-Hindi said according to KAN news.

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

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