The Reuters agency reported today about the meeting with reference to a familiar source. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly confirmed the negotiations on Saturday, according to the agency.
The head of the Israeli government expressed his belief at a press conference that the Israeli military offensive in Gaza helped to release some of the hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in November. He therefore wants to continue to put pressure on Hamas, which rules in Gaza.
“The instructions I am giving to the negotiating team are based on this pressure, without which we have nothing,” Netanyahu said, without directly commenting on the details of the negotiations with Qatar, which serves as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas.
In a statement, Hamas said it was opposed to any negotiations on a “prisoner exchange until the aggression against our people ceases once and for all.”
Israel continued its attacks on Gaza on Saturday, where 2.3 million Palestinians live in dire conditions, but a pair of Egyptian security officials said it now appeared more willing to work on a ceasefire in exchange for the release of the hostages. The release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel would probably again be part of the possible agreement.
In an unexpected attack on Israel on October 7, Palestinian militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 240 hostages to Gaza. They are still holding over 130 of them, but Israel believes that around 20 are already dead. Around 19,000 people lost their lives in Gaza during the massive Israeli counter-offensive. The vast majority of local residents had to leave their homes.