Negotiations over the fate of 50 hostages involving the US, Israel, and Hamas have reportedly fallen through, according to unnamed officials cited by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). However, Hamas did release two US nationals on Friday citing humanitarian reasons.
The WSJ report, based on information from several anonymous officials, highlighted that the talks mediated by Qatar were challenging, with no direct dialogue between Israel and Hamas during the first week. The Palestinian militant group set various preconditions for the negotiations, including a temporary cease-fire, the resumption of water supplies to Gaza by Israel, and increased humanitarian aid to the territory. Ultimately, the deal could not be finalized, the report stated.
Despite the failed negotiations, Hamas did agree to release two hostages on Friday. In a statement, the group attributed this decision to “Qatari efforts” and described it as a humanitarian gesture.
The WSJ also quoted an unnamed US official who praised Qatar’s assistance, but expressed concern that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was hindering efforts to free the remaining hostages.
According to Hamas, they currently hold about 200 people in captivity, while other militant groups in the enclave hold 50 more. They claim that 20 captives have been killed due to Israeli airstrikes.
Earlier in the week, senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal suggested that Israeli hostages could be exchanged for Palestinians held in Israeli jails, while foreigners would be released “when circumstances allow.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan informed reporters that over 20 Americans were reported missing following Hamas’ attack earlier this month.
The recent escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel began on October 7 when Palestinian militants launched a massive missile barrage and a surprise incursion, prompting Israel to retaliate with extensive airstrikes.
According to local officials on both sides, the ongoing conflict has resulted in over 4,000 Palestinian and 1,400 Israeli deaths, with thousands more wounded. The United Nations and human rights groups have raised concerns about the impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Despite the failed negotiations, efforts continue to secure the release of the remaining hostages. The situation remains tense, with both sides grappling with the devastating consequences of the conflict. The international community is closely monitoring developments and hoping for a peaceful resolution that prioritizes the well-being of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Social media users are urged to share this story to raise awareness about ongoing hostage negotiations and the urgent need for a cessation of violence.