Egypt boosts mediation for Gaza war, civilian prisoner releases on both sides

Ahram Online , Sunday 15 Oct 2023

Egyptian sources closely involved in the negotiations have revealed that Egypt is escalating its diplomatic efforts in collaboration with regional and international partners to quell the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza and facilitate the release of civilian prisoners from both sides.

Palestinians
Palestinians wait at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt Gaza Strip on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. AP

 

The source explained to Ahram Online that these negotiations extend beyond the liberation of children and women on the Palestinian side, aiming to reach an initial agreement.

On October 9, mediators held urgent discussions with Hamas, with the primary objective of negotiating the freedom of Israeli women and children taken by the militant group and currently held in Gaza.

In return, the talks have explored the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons, according to a source briefed on the matter who spoke to Reuters at the time.

Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially confirmed its participation in mediating discussions involving representatives of Hamas and Israeli officials, but apparently, these negotiations reached a dead end.

Currently, Qatar and the United States are working on finalizing an agreement to release civilian hostages held by Hamas.

A source well-informed about the negotiations who spoke to the Financial Times said recent meetings have shown promise in persuading Hamas to release these civilian captives, contingent on the cessation of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The deal would require Israel to halt its air operations to facilitate the safe release of captives and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave.

Hamas has expressed its willingness to engage in negotiations for the release of civilian captives but remains steadfast in its refusal to release military captives.

On Saturday, National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi denied that Israel is actively negotiating the repatriation of the Israelis and some other foreign nationals kidnapped by Hamas last Saturday, stressing that "there is no way right now to have a negotiation with the "terrorist organization".

Hanegbi further explained that "Israel will not hold negotiations with an enemy that we have vowed to wipe from the face of the earth."

He made the remarks while briefing reporters at the Israel Defense Force's Tel Aviv headquarters. 

Israel asserts that Hamas holds at least 120 Israeli captives, while Hamas contends that the number is considerably higher.

Hamas has reported that over 20 Israeli captives have tragically lost their lives due to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli confinement was 5200 in September, among whom 33 are women and 170 children.

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