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CIA director seeks restart on Hamas-Israel hostage talks

CIA Director William Burns met with the director of Israel’s Mossad and Qatari officials in Warsaw about restarting negotiations on freeing hostages from Hamas, Axios reported. 

More than 100 people remain held by Hamas since the Oct. 7 attack by the group on Israel.

Israel and Hamas paused fighting in November as the two sides exchanged prisoners, which led to the release of 105 hostages held by Hamas and approximately 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

A cease-fire was recognized during the hostage releases and was extended as the two sides negotiated subsequent releases. This also allowed a surge of humanitarian support into the beleaguered Gaza Strip, which Israel has launched a military campaign in response to the Oct. 7 attack.

Israel and the U.S. blame Hamas for violating the earlier agreement that had paused fighting. That dead ended on Dec. 1.

Israel, backed by the U.S., say Hamas had held back releasing Israeli women in violation of the agreement. Israel restarted its military campaign at that point and expanded its operation from the north of the territory to the south.

The fate of Israeli hostages is a fraught international issue.

Families of hostages held by Hamas are pleading for the release of their loved ones to be the priority goal of Israel’s war against Hamas. Their pleas have grown more urgent amid stories of torture, starvation and other hardships by prisoners.

The safety of hostages are also not guaranteed amid Israel’s ongoing military operations.

Israel late Friday announced the accidental killing of three hostages that had managed to escape captivity, triggering protests in Israel.

The majority of Israelis supported the Israeli government’s decision to enter into the first agreement of a temporary cease-fire to allow the release of women and children held captive by Hamas, in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, according to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute published at the beginning of December. 

But those numbers varied, with left-wing Israelis more in favor at 84.5 percent, compared to 56 percent of right-wing Israelis expressing support.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relies on far-right national and religious parties to maintain his majority in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and has faced strong opposition from the left in Israel.

Source: The Hill

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