Israel to send delegation to Qatar for hostage exchange talks: Report

Israel’s War Cabinet decided late Saturday to send a delegation to Qatar to have talks on a hostage exchange agreement with the Palestinian group Hamas, according to Israeli media. 

“An Israeli delegation, with a level of representation lower than that at the Paris talks, will go to Qatar to continue negotiations on the hostage exchange deal,” the Israeli Channel 12 reported.

Paris talks began on Friday afternoon, with the participation of an Israeli delegation headed by Mossad chief David Barnea, CIA chief William Burns, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, in an attempt to reach a hostage exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

No deal was reached during the talks. However, Israeli media reported Saturday that the Israeli negotiating delegation returned from Paris and spoke of “good negotiations and a positive atmosphere.”

A cease-fire between Hamas and Israel had previously been reached for a week from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, mediated by Qatar, Egypt, and the US, during which hostilities were halted, prisoners were swapped, and extremely limited humanitarian aid was delivered to Gaza.

Israel believes that 134 Israelis are still being held in Gaza, while it holds at least 8,800 Palestinians in its prisons, according to official sources from both parties.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas. The ensuing Israeli war has killed more than 29,600 people and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Nearly 70,000 people have been injured.

Around 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully insufficient to address the humanitarian catastrophe.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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