Israel seemed to acknowledge ongoing negotiations for the release of hostages held by Hamas, following reports of a meeting between Israel’s intelligence chief and the Prime Minister of Qatar, a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the existential nature of the conflict in Gaza during a press conference, pledging to continue the fight until victory. Netanyahu asserted plans to demilitarize Gaza and bring it under Israeli security control, citing military pressure on Hamas as crucial. He mentioned ongoing negotiations and vowed to maintain intense military pressure on the Palestinian group.
Netanyahu avoided confirming the meeting but acknowledged giving instructions to the negotiating team. Despite serious criticisms of Qatar’s ties to Hamas and Iran, Netanyahu expressed a focus on recovering hostages. The head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, David Barnea, reportedly met with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, signaling potential discussions on a Gaza truce and a prisoner-hostage deal.
Hamas stated its reluctance to engage in negotiations unless aggression against their people ceased. The accidental killing of three hostages by Israeli forces increased pressure on Netanyahu to secure their release. Amid protests in Tel Aviv calling for the return of hostages, intensified fighting was reported in southern Gaza. The conflict’s wider implications included drone attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on the Israeli resort of Eilat and disruptions to maritime routes in the Red Sea. The U.S. Central Command reported intercepting Houthi drones, and the UK confirmed shooting down a suspected attack drone targeting merchant shipping.