Report: Israel sent a delegation to Doha for hostage agreement

Mediators in the Gaza war between Israel and Islamist Hamas are intensifying efforts to agree on a ceasefire that could prevent an impending Israeli ground assault on Rafah, at least for now. According to a report by well-connected Israeli journalist Barak Ravid from the “Axios” news portal, the Israeli war cabinet decided on Saturday evening to send a delegation to Qatar for further talks in the coming days.

Earlier, a key meeting of mediators Egypt, Qatar and the United States with the participation of an Israeli delegation in Paris helped restart previously deadlocked talks on a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas. But Israeli representatives made clear on Saturday that there was still a long way to go before an agreement was reached.

Thousands of people demonstrated in various Israeli cities on Saturday evening for the release of hostages and against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to local media reports, there was chaos and violent clashes between government opponents and police. In Tel Aviv, a group of protesters tried to block the highway. Police used water cannons and mounted police in the city to disperse the demonstrators. It was stated that 21 people were detained. There were injuries.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid condemned the police actions. In his statement reflected in the media, Lapid said, “The violent action of the police tonight against demonstrators, including the families of the hostages, is dangerous, anti-democratic and should not continue.” said.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to quickly implement plans for a military attack on Rafah in the south of Gaza, despite the ongoing ceasefire negotiations. On Saturday evening, he announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he would convene the cabinet at the beginning of the week to approve the operational plan. The plan will also include the evacuation of civilians. The work week in Israel starts on Sunday.

The planned attack came under heavy criticism internationally. Even allies such as the United States are urging Israel to exercise restraint because Rafah’s 1.5 million Palestinians want to be sheltered in a small area and under terrible conditions from conflict in other parts of the closed coastal zone. “Only a combination of military pressure and tough negotiations will lead to the release of our hostages, the elimination of Hamas, and the realization of all war objectives,” Netanyahu wrote.

During the one-week ceasefire brokered by Qatar last November, 105 hostages were released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners as part of the agreement between Israel and Hamas. There are currently around 130 hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

On October 7 last year, Hamas and other extremist groups attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and fleeing another 250 to the Gaza Strip. This was the trigger for the war. According to Israeli estimates, only about 100 of the hostages held by Hamas are still alive after almost five months of war.

(APA/dpa)

Source: Vienna

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