July 21, 2024

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Hamas must locate dozens more hostages to extend truce, says Qatar

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Efforts to extend a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas will depend on the militant group locating dozens of additional women and children held hostage in Gaza by civilians and gangs, Qatar’s prime minister has said.

The Gulf state brokered a deal between Israel and Hamas last week for a four-day pause in the war starting on Friday during which the Islamist group has agreed to free 50 women and children held hostage. In return Israel agreed to the delivery of increased aid into the besieged strip and the release of 150 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

But Qatari prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Financial Times that there were more than 40 other women and children being kept captive in Gaza who were not believed to be held by Hamas. He said the truce — which is due to expire after Monday — could be extended if Hamas was able to use the pause in the conflict to locate those hostages.

“If they get additional women and children, there will be an extension,” Sheikh Mohammed said in an interview. “We don’t yet have any clear information how many they can find because . . . one of the purposes [of the pause] is they [Hamas] will have time to search for the rest of the missing people.”

An International Red Cross vehicle carrying a hostage released by Hamas drives towards the Rafah border point with Egypt on Sunday © Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Sheikh Mohammed said Israel had provided Qatar with a list of more than 90 women and children seized during Hamas’s devastating October 7 attack that according to Israeli officials killed about 1,200 people.

About 240 hostages were taken and dragged back to Hamas-controlled Gaza during the assault. The other captives include Israeli soldiers and elderly civilians.

The Qatari prime minister said Israel was willing to extend the temporary truce if “there’s proof” that Hamas has more women and children to release, “but nothing beyond that”.

Hamas has told…

2023-11-26 13:21:10

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