War Cabinet stops Mossad chief's attempts at new hostage deal

Report claims Netanyahu and Gallant insist further military pressure needed to ensure Hamas' obligation to new deal; captives' families decry War Cabinet's decision to prevent David Barnea from traveling to Qatar to talk to negotiators

Itamar Eichner, Lior Ben Ari|
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads Israel’s War Cabinet, prevented Mossad chief David Barnea from traveling to Qatar earlier this week to examine the possibility of reaching another deal to release hostages held by Hamas amid continued fighting in Gaza, Israeli broadcasting channel Keshet recently reported.
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According to the report, Minister Benny Gantz, who serves on the War Cabinet, believes that "Israel needs to find an opportunity to renew the process." But Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant believe it is necessary to wait until Hamas signals its willingness to commit to another deal following increased military pressure.
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שר הביטחון יואב גלנט בהתכנסות קבינט ניהול המלחמה
שר הביטחון יואב גלנט בהתכנסות קבינט ניהול המלחמה
Yoav Gallant, David Barnea
(Photo: Shahar Yorman)
In response to the report, the Abducted and Missing Families Forum said in a statement: "The hostages’ families are shocked by the report on the rejection of the director of Mossad’s request to formulate an agreement for the release of the hostages. The families demand immediate clarification from the prime minister and War Cabinet members and an immediate return to negotiations. The families believe that hostages are being murdered by Hamas terrorists every evening. We grow tired of the apathy and inaction.”
The statement added, "The report of rejecting the Mossad chief's request to formulate a deal for the release of the captives is in addition to the ignoring of the parents’ request to meet with the prime minister and the defense minister, which has not yet been answered. The families demand an immediate explanation from the prime minister and cabinet members and to break the deadlock in negotiations.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian sources reported to the Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Cairo received messages from the Israeli government stating its desire to engage in new negotiations to reach another hostage release deal. This would include a humanitarian cease-fire, just like in the previous arrangement through Qatari-Egyptian-American mediation.
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הקבינט לניהול מלחמת חרבות ברזל
הקבינט לניהול מלחמת חרבות ברזל
Israel's War Cabinet
(Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)
According to the report, Hamas politburo official Basem Naim denied any new negotiations between the mediators and the terror organization regarding an additional deal. "So far, this is Hamas' official statement," Basem said.
An Egyptian source told the newspaper that Barnea held a discussion on the subject with Egypt's General Intelligence Directorate head Abbas Kamel earlier this week. According to the report, Barnea informed Cairo that the government is open to the possibility of entering new negotiations aimed at the release of Israeli captives from Gaza under different conditions.
The Egyptian source further noted that it seemed the Israeli side saw strong opposition from some of the mediators. He added that senior Qatari officials were dissatisfied with the way Israel had been operating in recent days during the last round of negotiations, and that the mediators felt manipulated by Israel.
The Egyptian official believes that Hamas' dominance in the Gaza Strip and the failure of the IDF operation to rescue one of the Israeli captives are influencing the ongoing negotiation process.
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