Israel cancels Mossad chief's Qatar trip to resume hostage talks

Jerusalem, Dec 14 (IANS): The Israeli government has cancelled Mossad chief David Barnea's planned trip to Qatar for the resumption of talks on a possible second hostage release deal, an informed source said on Thursday.

The 58-year-old, who became the Director of Israel's foreign intelligence service on June 2021, will not travel to Doha, where talks on the release of hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza had taken place earlier, the source told CNN.

Israel’s Channel 13 first reported on Wednesday that the country's war cabinet, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had called off the trip.

It added that senior Israeli officials will not go to Qatar to restart negotiations.

The Mossad answers directly to the Prime Minister.

Around 240 people, from infants to octogenarians, were taken hostage during the Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office believes 135 hostages remain in Gaza, 116 of whom are alive.

During the now-collapsed humanitarian pause from November 24-30, 86 Israeli and 24 foreign national hostages were released.

On Tuesday, two additional bodies were retrieved.

Before the pause, four civilian hostages had been released by Hamas, one Israeli soldier was rescued, and bodies of three hostages were retrieved.

Formal negotiations have not resumed since hostage talks that had been taking place in Doha broke down earlier this month.

But Israel, the US and Qatar have continued to discuss ways to try to jump start the discussions, CNN quoted sources as saying.

Meanwhile, families of some of the Israeli hostages were outraged by the decision to cancel Barnea's trip and demanded answers.

“We are fed up with the indifference and deadlock,” they said in a statement.

“The families were shocked by the report on the rejection of the Director of Mossad's request to formulate an agreement for the release of the hostages.

“This announcement comes in addition to the ignoring of the parents' request to meet with the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister, which have not yet been answered,” the statement added.



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Title: Israel cancels Mossad chief's Qatar trip to resume hostage talks

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