Hamas rejects Egypt-mediated talks on Israeli hostages
Egyptian sources familiar with the Cairo-led mediation between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership in the Gaza Strip outlined attempts to reach agreement on hostages taken by Hamas militants on Israeli territory
This was reported on Sunday, October 8, 2023, by the pan-Arab outlet Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed.
According to the outlet, during phone calls that took place on the evening of Saturday, October 7, Israeli officials demanded Egyptian intervention to start negotiations on the "rapid release of wounded and elderly hostages."
The source, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed that Cairo had passed on Israeli messages to Hamas leaders that included warnings against using Israeli prisoners as human shields.
In addition, the Israeli side allegedly asked officials in Egypt's General Intelligence Service for help in "determining the coordinates of areas where hostages could be placed to avoid an attack on them."
Another source said that the US administration, through a series of communications at the military and intelligence levels, urged Cairo to put pressure on Hamas to stop the group from further developing violence.
An Egyptian source explained to Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed that the Hamas leadership confirmed during contacts with him that a ceasefire was not a subject of the agreement, and that if Tel Aviv wants to stop the war, it must cease fire "unilaterally and completely. refrain from bombing the Gaza Strip," and then Hamas "will reconsider its plans."
In addition, Hamas refused to provide any information on the number of Israeli hostages and their places of detention, because "this information is an integral part of the process of releasing Palestinians from Israeli prisons and new demands that will arise later".
Also, according to the same Egyptian sources of Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed, a conversation took place at the level of Egyptian and Iranian intelligence officials. The conversation was limited to the exchange of views on the current situation in the Gaza Strip.
At the same time, in a commentary to The Times of Israel, Israeli officials, whose names were not disclosed, denied reports of such talks with Egyptian mediation.
"Right now we are fighting terrorists on Israeli territory. We’re not involved in any talks about the hostages right now," the Times of Israel quoted one of its sources as saying.
Israel confirms that at least 100 of its citizens are being held hostage by the Hamas group. Among them are both civilians and soldiers of both sexes.
In contrast to previous exacerbations of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the morning of October 7, 2023, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants occupied 7 territorial communities of Israel adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
For the first time since 1973, Israel declared a state of war.