Families of Gaza hostages demand ‘urgent update’ from PM after report on no new talks

Family members of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza say they are “shocked” by a report earlier that the war cabinet decided against sending the head of the Mossad to Qatar to advance negotiations on a new hostage deal, and are demanding an “immediate explanation” from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Channel 13 news said tonight that the war cabinet directing the operation against Hamas is in disagreement over the extent of the efforts currently being made on talks toward a new hostage deal, and decided recently against sending Mossad chief David Barnea to Qatar, where he helped negotiate the hostage deal last month that saw the release of 105 civilians — Israeli women and children, and foreign nationals — during a weeklong fighting truce.

According to the report, Barnea offered to head to Qatar again. An unnamed diplomatic official told Channel 13 that, for now, Barnea “is not heading to Qatar, and the decision is that we are listening to suggestions if they come.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum says in a statement tonight that “families were shocked by the report on the rejection of the director of Mossad’s request to formulate an agreement for the release of the hostages,” which comes “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,” the forum says.

It is believed that 135 hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — of the 240 taken on October 7. Four hostages were released prior to the temporary truce and hostage release in late November, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of four hostages have also been recovered. The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed the deaths of 20 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

Earlier today, authorities confirmed that another two hostages — Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak resident Tal Chaimi and Tanzanian agricultural intern Joshua Mollel, who resided in Kibbutz Nahal Oz — were murdered by Gaza terrorists during and after the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel.

The families’ forum says: “The feeling is that every evening a Russian roulette of murdering hostages in Hamas captivity takes place. We are fed up with the indifference and deadlock.”

“The families request an urgent update, given the lack of progress in talks on the release of the hostages,” says the statement.

According to the Channel 13 report, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz is in favor of an Israeli initiative on new hostage talks, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant believe Israel should wait for a signal from Hamas that it is interested in another deal, following military pressure.

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