Qatar urges Israel and Hamas to make prisoners deal

AFP , Tuesday 14 Nov 2023

Qatar on Tuesday urged Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement on releasing captives seized in the 7 October offensive, warning that the situation in Gaza was worsening every day.

Israeli captive
File Photo: Palestinians transport a captured Israeli civilian, center, from Kibbutz Kfar Azza into the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. AP


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 captives and a temporary ceasefire in the war sparked on southern Israel over a month ago which Israel says killed 1,200 people.

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

Since then, Israel launched a relentless bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, killing at least 11,320 people, including 4,630 children and 3,130 women, according to the Palestanian health ministry.

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.

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 Hamas, established with US blessing, to play a lead role in the release of four of the captives so far.

Separately, The head of Israel's internal security agency Shabak arrived in Egypt on Tuesday and held talks with Egyptian officials. The talks focused on the long-awaited humanitarian truce in Gaza and the prisoner exchange issue, official sources told Egyptian news outlet Extra News.

'You have failed' 

Israeli leaders have insisted there will be no broader ceasefire until captives 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 captives 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's 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 captives 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 resistance 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 captives Islamic Jihad is holding in Gaza.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

Short link: