Israel-Qatar Meeting Raises Gaza Hostage Talks Prospect
Israel seemed to confirm ongoing talks to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas after sources revealed a meeting between Israel’s intelligence chief and the Qatari prime minister, who is mediating in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a Saturday press conference, emphasized the existential nature of the Gaza conflict, stating it must be fought until victory. Netanyahu asserted plans to demilitarize Gaza and place it under Israeli security control.
Read more : Israel Attacks Northern And Southern Gaza
Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza played a role in securing a partial hostage-release deal in November, according to Netanyahu. He pledged to maintain significant military pressure on Hamas and expressed determination to dismantle the militant Palestinian group governing the densely populated strip.
Netanyahu outlined that the negotiating team’s instructions are based on sustained pressure, emphasizing its importance in the absence of which there would be no progress.
Hamas initiated a surprise raid into Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages. Israel’s counteroffensive, as reported by Gaza health authorities, resulted in the death of nearly 19,000 people and left thousands buried in the rubble.
Humanitarian organizations describe the situation in Gaza, marked by destruction and displacement of most of its 2.3 million inhabitants, as a severe crisis. Many residents are living in tents and makeshift shelters without access to food or clean water.
David Barnea, the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, reportedly met with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani late on Friday. The meeting, taking place in Europe, marks the first known encounter between senior officials from Israel and Qatar since the collapse of a seven-day ceasefire in late November.