Mossad chief expected to resume Gaza ceasefire talks in Doha on Sunday

By Thomson Reuters Mar 16, 2024 | 8:13 AM

DOHA (Reuters) -The head of Israeli intelligence is expected to lead ceasefire talks with mediators which resume in Qatar on Sunday in direct response to a new proposal from Hamas, a source close to the talks told Reuters on Saturday.

The talks between Mossad head David Barnea, Qatar’s prime minister and Egyptian officials will focus on remaining gaps between Israel and Hamas including over prisoner releases and humanitarian aid, the source said.

Israel had said on Friday it would be sending a delegation to Doha, but did not spell out when it would do so or who would take part. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to convene the security cabinet before the talks.

Israeli officials were not immediately available to comment on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Barnea was involved in previous significant pushes for a deal. A short-lived truce in November was agreed and came into effect after his participation in talks in Doha. His last meeting with Qatar’s prime minister in January led to a proposal for a temporary ceasefire that Hamas ultimately rejected.

Hamas this week presented a new ceasefire proposal to mediators and Israel’s ally the United States that includes the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for freedom for Palestinian prisoners.

Repeated efforts to agree a ceasefire and exchange hostages for prisoners have fallen apart this year, despite mounting international pressure over the human cost of Israel’s ground and air assault in Gaza.

The war began on Oct. 7 when Hamas sent fighters into Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 253 hostages according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 31,500 Palestinians, about 70% of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

(Reporting by Andrew Mills; Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Holmes)