Recent reports have linked former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to various publications regarding his involvement in mediating a deal to release hostages. It was reported that Cohen recently visited Qatar, and senior members of the security establishment are uncertain about whether he has an official role in the hostage issue and whether he is acting on behalf of a qualified Israeli entity.
In an interview with Ynet, Cohen discussed the negotiations for hostage release, Qatar, and the government's role in the war, while dismissing claims that Israel is facing existential threats.
"I have a defined role, which is not up for debate. I've held meetings with the heads of the security apparatus. I operate with authority and under authorization. I am not leading the negotiations for the issue of hostages; there is Gal Hirsch's headquarters and other security organizations," Cohen said. "I'm engaging with leaders in the Middle East. To ensure fair mediation in the hostage matter, they need to get an accurate picture of what we've been through and what the families are enduring."
According to Cohen, "Leaders ask me, 'Did these things happen? It's not according to Islamic law.' So, I tell them that I have everything on my phone, and I can show them all the videos and horrors they committed. The goal is for this to resonate in their hearts, minds, and brains when they come to support or mediate in hostage release negotiations themselves."
The former Mossad chief also addressed criticism directed at Qatar for mediating in the hostage release deal, with allegations that it is tilted in favor of Hamas. "Currently in Gaza, we need to achieve effective mediation, and in practice, there are two such mediators - Qatar and Egypt," explained Cohen. "I hear the criticism about Qatar's actions from the past. We are aware of all the allegations, and I believe there will be more time to address this matter."
"The question here is not about fair mediation from Qatar's side," Cohen added. "The question is about effective mediation. The system knew how to turn to the Qataris, who knew how to convey what needed to be conveyed to Yahya Sinwar, who is not currently in direct contact with them because he is detached, to release the first two captives. It was a small deal, but an important one." According to him, Qatar is "a very good mediator" that understood the magnitude of the ordeal Israel went through.
Cohen also addressed a military-operational issue, stating that the targeted killing of senior Hamas figures is a decision that needs to be made. According to him, "If, according to foreign reports, we carried out such an action to remove other threats from over Israel's head in the past, then we must continue to do so. The action can be done."