Israeli, U.S. spy chiefs meet Qatari PM to discuss 'building on' Gaza truce - source
Qatar, where several political leaders of Hamas are based, has been leading negotiations between the Palestinian militant group and Israel. Officials in Tuesday's meeting discussed possible parameters of a new phase of the truce deal including Hamas releasing hostages who are men or military personnel, not just women and children, the source said.
The leaders of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel's Mossad met Qatar's prime minister in Doha on Tuesday to build on the two-day extension of a truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, a source briefed on the visit said. The meeting was "to build on the progress of the extended humanitarian pause agreement and to initiate further discussions about the next phase of a potential deal," the source told Reuters.
The outcome of the talks, which were also attended by Egyptian officials, was unclear, the source added. CIA Director William Burns was in Doha "for meetings on the Israel-Hamas conflict including discussions on hostages," a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. The official did not elaborate.
Burns, David Barnea, head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani met one day after Qatar announced the two-day extension of an original four-day truce deal in Gaza that had been due to expire overnight. Qatar, where several political leaders of Hamas are based, has been leading negotiations between the Palestinian militant group and Israel.
Officials in Tuesday's meeting discussed possible parameters of a new phase of the truce deal including Hamas releasing hostages who are men or military personnel, not just women and children, the source said. They also considered what might be needed to reach a ceasefire lasting more than a handful of days. Qatar spoke to Hamas before the meeting to get a sense of what the group might agree to. The Israelis and Hamas are now internally discussing the ideas explored at the meeting, the source added.
The truce has brought the first respite to the Gaza Strip in seven weeks during which Israel bombed the territory heavily in response to a violent rampage on Oct. 7 by Hamas gunmen who killed around 1,200 people and took 240 captives. Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, which rules Gaza. Health authorities in Gaza say Israel's bombardment of the tiny, densely populated territory has so far killed more than 15,000 people, around 40% of them children.
Barnea and Burns were previously in Qatar to meet Sheikh Mohammed on Nov 9. During the first four days of the truce, Hamas fighters released 50 Israeli women and children who had been taken hostage. In return, Israel released 150 security detainees from its jails, all women and teenagers.
As part of the two-day truce extension Hamas has agreed to release an additional 10 Israeli women and children each day. So far, there is no indication that Hamas is willing to release any Israeli men or military personnel among those taken captive. (Writing by Andrew Mills and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Alison Williams, Gareth Jones, Chizu Nomiyama and Don Durfee)
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