Qatar said trying to negotiate female prisoner swap; UAE, Egypt meet on crisis

Hamas spokesman says group will release updated hostage figure on Monday, calls again for release of terror inmates held in Israel; UAE ‘appalled’ by abduction of Israeli civilians

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani talks to journalists during a press conference in Rome on July 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani talks to journalists during a press conference in Rome on July 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Negotiations are ongoing under Qatari mediation for a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, according to a source in the terror group quoted by the Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

“With US support, Qatar is seeking to accomplish an urgent agreement that would lead to the release of Israeli women captured by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli prisons,” the anonymous source told Xinhua on Sunday.

An Israeli official denied the report, saying that “there is no negotiation” over the release of hostages.

It is believed that more than 130 people were abducted from Israel and taken into Gaza by terrorists who infiltrated on Saturday. Among the captives are women, children, and the elderly. In videos posted from Gaza, many were seen being abused. Several of the captives were dead.

There are currently 36 Palestinian women detained in Israeli prisons whose release Hamas is seeking, the Chinese outlet reports.

Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua, a spokesman for the terror group, said Monday that Hamas wants to “liberate all Palestinian prisoners” from Israel and end Israeli “provocations” in the West Bank and Jerusalem, particularly at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the spokesman added that Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, would announce the hostage figures later.

Yaffa Adar grins stoically as Hamas terrorists abduct her to Gaza from her home in Be’eri, Israel, on October 7, 2023. (Screenshot from a video X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Meanwhile, the leaders of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on Monday discussed the conflict between Israel and Palestinian terror groups, according to an AP report.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan agreed on “the importance of… advancing diplomatic efforts that aim to de-escalate violence, protect civilians, spare blood,” a statement from the Egyptian president’s office said. Such efforts should include establishing “a comprehensive, just and permanent peace,” it added.

In a separate statement, the UAE foreign ministry said it was “appalled” that Israeli civilians were taken hostage in the Hamas assault, and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims. The ministry stressed that attacks by Hamas against Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza Strip, including the firing of thousands of rockets at population centers, are a serious and grave escalation.

The Gulf country, which established relations with Israel in 2020, urged “all diplomatic efforts to prevent a wider regional confrontation,” and warned against “nihilistic destruction” taking over the region.

The statement is notably less neutral than the initial UAE reaction on Saturday, which simply “expressed great concern regarding the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians,” according to AFP.

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