Hostage release talks resume in Cairo

Hamas would only release hostages if Jerusalem agreed to a ‘complete cessation’ of its Gaza offensive.

By JNS

A high-level Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Monday night to jumpstart negotiations to secure the release of hostages still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to Arabic-language media.

The talks had reportedly hit a snag following last week’s assassination of Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut in a strike attributed to Israel.

Last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned that “enemy prisoners will not be released except under the resistance’s [Hamas’s] conditions.”

Hamas had informed Qatari and Egyptian mediators it would only release hostages if Jerusalem agreed to a “complete cessation” of its Gaza offensive, Haniyeh said.

He also signaled his willingness to join a single Palestinian governing body for the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria after the war.

Newly-installed Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz vowed last week to make the return of the hostages his ministry’s top priority.

On Tuesday, dozens of family members of hostages converged on the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza, with the aim of blocking aid passing into the Hamas-ruled enclave.

“We will not allow the introduction of humanitarian equipment into Gaza while the sick and wounded are held captive by Hamas,” the families said in a statement.

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Shai Vankert, father of hostage Omer, said: “We will reach the Kerem Shalom crossing to prevent goods and medicine from entering the Gaza Strip. My son is sick with colitis, and since Oct. 7 he has not seen a doctor. It is impossible that at this time hundreds of trucks are entering Gaza.”

Police prevented the group from reaching the crossing area, which is designated a closed military zone.