Qatar urges Israel and Hamas to make hostage deal

Qatar urges Israel and Hamas to make hostage deal
Qatar urges Israel and Hamas to make hostage deal

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A demonstrator holds a poster showing 21-year-old Israeli Omer Shem Tov, who was kidnapped by Hamas militants on October 7, 2023, during a demonstration in support of Israel, to denounce antisemitism and call for the release of hostages on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2023. — AFP pic

DOHA, Nov 15 — Qatar on Tuesday urged Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement on releasing hostages seized in the October 7 attack, warning that the situation in Gaza was worsening every day.

Speaking to a news conference in Doha, Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed bin Mohammed Al-Ansari said the “deteriorating” situation in Gaza was hampering mediation efforts.

“We believe there is no other chance for both sides other than for this mediation to take place and to reach a situation where we can see a glimmer of hope in this terrible crisis,” he said.

The Gulf state has led negotiations for the release of hostages and a temporary ceasefire in the war sparked by the Hamas attack on southern Israel over a month ago which Israel says killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

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About 240 hostages were also seized and taken back to Gaza, Israel says.

In response Israel launched a relentless bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, killing 11,320 people, also mostly civilians and including thousands of children, according to health officials in the Hamas-run territory.

Hamas on Monday said Israel had requested the release of 100 women and children in return for 200 Palestinian children and 75 women held in Israeli prisons.

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Qatar is home to the political office of Hamas and is the main residence of the group’s self-exiled leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

The wealthy Gulf emirate has used its channels with the militant group, established with US blessing, to play a lead role in the release of four of the hostages so far.

Separately, a TV station close to the Egyptian security services said the chief of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, was in Cairo to discuss a “humanitarian truce” and the release of hostages.

‘You have failed’

Israeli leaders have insisted there will be no broader ceasefire until hostages are released, with pressure mounting on them from the relatives of those held in Gaza.

“The families urgently demand the war cabinet approve a deal tonight to bring home all hostages from Gaza,” the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“You have failed. We want our children and families home — today!” said Shelly Shem Tov, whose son was abducted.

“We will burn down the country until they come home,” she said at a Tuesday press conference.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, said they told mediators up to 70 captives could be released “if we obtained five days of truce... and the passage of aid to all our people throughout the Gaza Strip”.

He said a higher number of hostages could not be released “because some are in the hands of different groups and factions” and accused Israel of dragging its feet.

On Tuesday, Islamic Jihad, a smaller militant group fighting alongside Hamas in Gaza, issued a statement suggesting it was on the verge of backing out of the talks.

“The way negotiations over enemy prisoners are being conducted could push Islamic Jihad to leave the agreement,” said leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah.

“We could hold onto the prisoners we have until we secure better conditions.”

It is unclear how many hostages Islamic Jihad is holding in Gaza. — AFP

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