Israel-Hamas talks drag on in Qatar, Blinken in region

DOHA, Qatar — There are radically different visions of how to end the crisis Gaza war Israel and Hamas have been locked in thorny and slow-moving talks in Doha this week, with officials warning that a deal to stop the fighting and release some hostages could take weeks to reach if Israel continues to carry out planned attacks. It could be completely disruptive. in the southern city of Rafah.

For months, Hamas has insisted on a negotiated end to the conflict, including a permanent ceasefire in exchange for the release of the hostages it seized from Israel on October 7. Israel has vowed to continue the war until the group ends. After controlling Gaza for 16 years, it was wiped out. Israel said any suspension of hostilities would be temporary.

“This is not a negotiation that will be over in a few days, maybe in a few weeks,” said an Israeli official with knowledge of the negotiations, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.

A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that Israel had received an “overall negative response” to its latest overtures. Hamas official Osama Hamdan, speaking at a news conference in Beirut, accused Israel of delaying “to hinder negotiations and risk leading to a dead end.”

The ceasefire negotiations come at a critical moment for Gaza. Experts say famine may already be occurring in the Northmore than a million people were displaced to Rafah to await Israeli attacks.

“We are preparing to enter Rafah, which will take some time, but we will continue to operate with full force,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a recorded video statement on Wednesday.

Israel is under intense pressure from the United States to abandon plans for a ground invasion of Rafah, with Israeli leaders saying action is needed to destroy Hamas’ few remaining battalions. Netanyahu will send a delegation to Washington for talks on how to combat Hamas without endangering civilians. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, at least 31,923 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel on Friday after visiting Saudi Arabia and Egypt, a State Department spokesman said. “Blinken will discuss ongoing negotiations with Israeli government leadership to secure the release of all hostages,” spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Hamas officials said Wednesday that Israel’s latest response made no mention of a comprehensive ceasefire or guarantees that displaced Palestinians could return to their homes once the fighting stops.

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Two of Hamas’ key demands include allowing residents to return to northern Gaza, which Israel has cut off from the rest of the region, and linking any pause in fighting to a lasting ceasefire and an end to the war.

Israel says allowing residents to return to the north is a red line because it believes Hamas is trying to regroup in areas that have been cleared by Israeli forces. It also wants to continue the war, including attacking Rafah, and says the conflict will end when Hamas is defeated in Gaza.

“We cannot stop the war. We cannot retreat from Gaza. We will not allow all civilians to return to the north,” said Yaakov Amidrol, Israel’s former national security adviser.

Hamas official Bassem Naim said in an interview in Doha that the group had shown greater “flexibility” in negotiations in recent weeks, agreeing to discuss a phased deal that would begin with a pause in fighting. But he said any deal must include a path to a “sustainable ceasefire”.

First phase of negotiations centered on Hamas According to a Western diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations, 35 hostages held in Gaza will be released in exchange for a six-week pause in fighting and the release of about 350 Palestinians from Israeli prisons. Sensitive negotiations.

Israeli officials have said Israel wants the first batch of hostages to include five female soldiers, whom Hamas considers to be of higher value. There are still 130 hostages being held in Gaza, 33 of whom have been officially declared dead by Israel.

“If we hand over these prisoners of war to Israel without certainty that a lasting ceasefire can be achieved, it means that we have given them the most precious card in their hand,” Naim said of the hostages.

Hamas has so far refused to provide Israel with a list of the hostages still alive, according to Israeli officials.

“I didn’t hear optimism in the room,” the official said of the negotiations. “I hear there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

But even if Hamas makes significant concessions, some observers say it’s unclear whether Israel has enough political will to reach a deal.

“There is reason to be a little optimistic because Hamas’s answer shows some flexibility,” said Gershon Baskin, who helped negotiate the release of Gilad, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas ·Gilad Shalit.

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“But it’s not clear to me whether Netanyahu wants to make a deal,” he said. “This is evident because the negotiations were not conducted by negotiators at the highest level.”

Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid Ansari said David Bania, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, left Doha on Tuesday, leaving behind a team to continue discussions.

Baskin said Netanyahu seemed more focused on military victory and going after top Hamas figures such as the group’s leader in Gaza, Yehiya Sinwar, and its armed wing, Izzedin. Mohammed Deif, the head of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

Israel believes “if we kill Deif and Sinwar, the chain of command will collapse,” he said. “Why assume that the hostages will not be executed?”

Israeli forces continue operations across Gaza, including in Gaza City, where they conducted a days-long raid on Shifa Hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which accuses Hamas of using the hospital as a staging area for military activities, said on Wednesday it killed about 90 “terrorists” in the hospital area and interrogated more than 300 people during the military operation. Avoid “harm to civilians, patients, medical teams and medical equipment.”

Hamas said in a statement that dozens of civilians were executed by Israeli forces. Neither claim can be independently confirmed.

Gaza Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Bassal said in a statement that “hundreds of injured citizens” remained near the hospital.

Israel said on Monday that the attack on Shifa Kill Faike MabhuThe Israel Defense Forces identified him as a senior official in Hamas’s internal security service and the coordinator of the group’s armed activities across Gaza.

Al-Mabhouh is the director of police operations responsible for coordinating and protecting aid deliveries, the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV network said. The Washington Post could not immediately confirm his role.

The police were civil servants in Hamas’s pre-war government and until last month played a key role in protecting international aid convoys. Israel starts targeting them.

On Wednesday, Israel announced the killing of four more Hamas officials, describing them as “senior personnel” while also saying they managed the group’s activities in “humanitarian zones.”

Morris reported from Berlin, Fahim from Istanbul and Daduchi from Beirut. Karen DeYoung in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia contributed to this report.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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