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Truce and hostage release talks with Hamas reach dead end as Mossad negotiating team leaves Qatar

Senior Hamas leader confirms: ‘No negotations at the moment’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with Mossad Director David Barnea at IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 15, 2023. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The negotiations for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel are officially at an end, Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Mossad Intelligence agency confirmed in a rare statement on Saturday afternoon.

“Due to the dead end in negotiations, and following instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad director David Barnea ordered the negotiating team in Doha to return home,” according to the joint statement.

The Israeli army resumed the fighting in Gaza on Friday morning after Hamas first refused to release the agreed-upon Israeli hostages, and then broke the truce by firing rockets at Israel, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Saturday.

“The Hamas terror group did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement that included releasing all the women and children that were on the list provided to Hamas and which it authorized,” the PMO and the Mossad stated.

During the mediation talks with Qatar, Egypt and the United States, Israel and Hamas had agreed on a four-day truce that was eventually extended to 7 days in total, and led to the release of 108 hostages by Hamas and the release of more than 250 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas continued for some time after the fighting had resumed on Friday morning but finally broke down, with both sides officially confirming the end of talks on Saturday.

“The Mossad director thanks the head of the CIA, Egypt’s intelligence minister, and the prime minister of Qatar for their partnership and the tremendous mediation efforts that led to the release of 86 women and children from Gaza, in addition to 24 foreign nationals,” the statement read.

Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of the Hamas terror organization, confirmed that no negotiations are being conducted at the moment.

“No negotiations are currently underway. The abductees that remain in our hands are soldiers and those who served in the army in the past, and there is no negotiation about them until the end of the war. The IDF claims that there are still children and women in Gaza, but we said that we handed over all the women and children,” al-Arouri told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

“From the beginning, Hamas announced that it was ready to release the foreign abductees without compensation and that the children and women who were kidnapped were not a target and would be released. We are ready to make a barter deal for the transfer of the bodies of the abductees who were killed in exchange for our dead. But we need more time to extract them,” he added.

According to an Israeli count, 136 people – 114 men, 20 women, and two children – are still being held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Of these, 125 are Israeli citizens and eleven are foreign nationals, including eight Thai citizens.

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

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