Hostage negotiations 'almost completely frozen': After six months 'Sinwar is still mocking us'

Senior Arab diplomat said that Hamas' refusal of the latest proposal led to a suspension of contacts, while an official in the terrorist organization's leadership claims the US proposal 'fully adopted the Israeli position'

In the shadow of Hamas' "scandalous" refusal of the American proposal for a hostage deal, a senior Arab diplomat told the NBC network that the negotiations are "almost completely frozen."
At the same time, as discussions continue about a response to the extensive Iranian attack on Saturday night, Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri told his party's newspaper, "Haderech" (The Way), referring to a possible retaliation against Iran, that "we need to remember that there is a campaign that we have not finished in the Gaza Strip, our hostages are still there. There are also about 100,000 residents in the north who have not returned to their homes. Therefore, the right thing at this time is to focus on that, and not open more arenas."
An official in the Hamas leadership claimed Wednesday morning in an interview with Al Jazeera that "we presented a vision for the deal based on the proposal of the mediators, including the U.S., based on the outline of the second Paris summit," but the American outline "fully adopted the Israeli position." He added that: "This American behavior will not lead to a deal, but will escalate the situation and lead to more bloodshed."
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נתניהו וסינוואר
נתניהו וסינוואר
Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar
(Photos: Dana Koppel, Reuters)
Al-Thani accused Israel of "collectively punishing the Strip and escalating in the West Bank," and said: "The policy of siege and starvation against the Palestinians cannot be allowed to continue. We call on all parties to reduce the escalation and avoid the region slipping into a new cycle of violence."
Hamas' claim against the U.S. proposal comes after a senior U.S. official said on Sunday that "it is scandalous" that the terrorist organization "refused an offer in which we gave it everything it asked for." The official added that: "It is quite clear that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar wants to continue to keep the hostages around him - including the young women. He refuses to release the elderly and the sick, knowing that this would result in an immediate cease-fire - and this is precisely what indicates the nature of Hamas."
Eli Shtivi, whose son, Idan, is held by the terrorist organization in Gaza, told Ynet on Wednesday morning that, in view of Hamas' position, "we need to enter Rafah as soon as possible. Don't wait and say 'we have a date'; enter and defeat Hamas. Nothing else will help. We talked about 40 hostages and they are down to 20 and even less than that. We need to go into Rafah and look for every piece of information, otherwise we will not receive anything. It is simply impossible to reach an agreement with Hamas."
Shtivi added that "we have no one to negotiate with; In Hamas they feel like they are in heaven right now, they are sure that Iran will help them. I don't get into the army's plans, but the goal is to return the hostages first."
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עידן שתיוי - נעדר
עידן שתיוי - נעדר
Idan Shtivi is still held by Hamas in Gaza
Regarding the intention of some of the families of the hostages to intensify the protest against the government - and even act to overthrow it - Shtivi said that "some of the families advocate this and others do not. My only goal is to return the hostages, to bring my son home. All this nonsense against the government is precisely to bury the issue of the hostages. I'm against it. I can also make my protest worse; I went on a hunger strike in front of the Prime Minister's Residence, but to shut down the economy and say that the government doesn't want to bring home the hostages? I think whoever says this is himself against their return." He added that "these are hard words, but I love them all, and it doesn't matter to me - I won't let the government fall and I won't let Netanyahu go before he brings my son back. I will not give him the privilege of leaving before the hostages return."
Yael Ader, who was informed of the death of her abducted son, Tamir, at the beginning of the year, emphasized her desire to avoid using the description that "his body is being held in Gaza."
"The reality we are facing today is illusory and unacceptable. There was complete negligence here in the lack of protection of the country's borders, which allowed thousands of terrorists to infiltrate and do as they please. Hundreds of them entered Kibbutz Nir Oz, where they kidnapped and murdered. It is important for me to have a place where we can go to rest with his memory. Tamir was married and the father of children, they also need the tangible part of the person who was dearest to them," she said.
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תמיר אדר
תמיר אדר
Tamil Ader is still a hostage in Gaza
Ader added that "Tamir loved this country, where his life was sacrificed. He was a very dedicated citizen, and there is no question here about the obligation to return all the hostages, the living and the murdered." Regarding the families' protest measures, she said: "Everything is legitimate, each family acts in its own way. I believe that the goal of all these actions is solely the return of the hostages, and if we are missing something in this whole equation it is not just a military action, because there were good military actions with excellent achievements, and according to my understanding the government did not preserve these achievements because they did not create an alternative governmental solution for Gaza."
"We took care of the north of the Gaza Strip from a civilian point of view in an amazing way, and the IDF, which failed on October 7, came to its senses, asked for forgiveness when no one else did, and then did an amazing job in the Gaza Strip," according to Ader. "Soldiers paid with their lives and families are dealing with the bereavement that I know today, but we did not know how to take this achievement and leverage it for something political, because without it Sinwar will remain in his position. He really scoffs at the proposals when he suggests returning 20 hostages in dire condition, or maybe fewer than that. Hamas is laughing at us; why didn't we establish a civil government in northern Gaza? If there was an alternative civil government there, it is possible that Sinwar would be under pressure today."
She added that: "After half a year, Sinwar still has the ability to mock us. We simply need to make the decision to defeat Hamas. If this decision had been made, the hostages would already be here for Seder night." Yael said that "Passover is the holiday of freedom, and we are also just before Memorial Day, but dozens of families do not have a place to celebrate with their loved ones. Everything must be done to return the dead hostages for burial so that we have a place in the land of Israel to visit them."
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