(MENAFN) Behind closed doors, negotiations for a Gaza truce have recommenced, with a primary focus on advancing another round of prisoner and hostage exchanges between Israel and Hamas, according to Egyptian officials. The talks involve mid-level officials and diplomats from key stakeholders, including Qatar, Israel, Egypt, and the United States, with indirect participation from Hamas. Described as "intermittent" and lacking the urgency seen in previous discussions that resulted in a temporary week-long truce earlier this month, the current round of negotiations faces added complexity as Israel initiates a ground offensive in the densely populated southern Gaza Strip.
Previously, high-ranking officials such as the heads of the CIA, Mossad, Egyptian intelligence, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and Hamas's political leaders based in Qatar were directly involved in the talks. However, the current discussions involve lower-level representatives, raising questions about the trajectory of the negotiations.
Egyptian officials, who are regularly briefed on the negotiation process, shared insights against the backdrop of Israel's renewed ground offensive in southern Gaza. The intensified military action is likely to complicate ongoing efforts to reach a lasting truce. The talks resumed shortly after a week-long truce collapsed, with both Israel and Hamas blaming each other for the failure to extend the ceasefire. The temporary truce had facilitated the delivery of significant humanitarian aid to Gaza and resulted in the release of numerous women and children held by Hamas, along with Palestinians detained in Israeli jails.
The Gaza war, which commenced on October 7, witnessed a deadly rampage by Hamas in southern Israel, resulting in the killing of 1,200 people and the taking of approximately 240 hostages back to the coastal enclave. In response, Israel launched a relentless bombardment, causing substantial casualties, including the death of almost 16,000 individuals, including 5,000 children, and displacing the majority of Gaza's 2.3 million residents. As negotiations unfold against the backdrop of renewed hostilities, the article explores the challenges and complexities surrounding the quest for a sustainable truce in the region.
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