Photo Credit: Chaim Goldberg / Flash 90
Head of Mossad David Barnea attends the state ceremony marking 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, held at the military cemetery at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl, on September 26, 2023.

The Israeli negotiating team headed by Mossad director David Barnea was ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday to return to Israel, ending talks with Hamas in Qatar.

Netanyahu ordered the team to return to Israel because talks had reached an impasse, and it was clear no further progress could be made.


The negotiations were being brokered by CIA Director William Burns, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al Thani.

Barnea thanked all three for their “tremendous mediation efforts that led to the release of 84 Israelis alongside 24 foreign nationals.”

Hamas Violates ‘Hudna’ Agreement
Hamas failed to live up to its commitment to free all the women and children being held hostage in Gaza, including during its seventh and final release of Israeli captives on Thursday night, freeing eight instead of 10 hostages as agreed, shortly before midnight.

The terrorist organization resumed its rocket attacks on Israel barely five hours later.

Israel Defense Forces waited until 7 am, in accordance with the agreement signed the previous Friday. At 7:01 am, the IDF unleashed its full fury against terrorist targets in Gaza, as promised, with air strikes and artillery fire.

“The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization has violated the outline,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement issued Friday.

“It has not met its obligation to release all the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens.

“Upon the resumption of fighting, we emphasize: The Government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war: Releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas, and ensuring the Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel.”

The Numbers
At present, 137 remain in captivity, including 20 women and 117 men. Eleven of those hostages are foreigners; the rest are Israeli citizens. Ten remaining hostages are ages 75 or older.

During the talks in Doha, Israel was focused on the return of women and children first.

There are just two children being held hostage in Gaza at this point: 10-month-old Kfir Beibas and his four-year-old brother, Ariel.

Hamas claimed in a vicious social media post last week that included a video of the children’s weeping father that the two Beibas children and their mother Shiri were dead, but provided no visual evidence to substantiate the claim.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have both announced the deaths of hostages only to later release them, alive. It’s part of the psychological warfare conducted by the terrorist groups during every conflict.

The only two Israelis released Thursday by the terror group who were under age 19 were 17-year-old Aisha Ziyadne and her 18-year-old brother Bilal, from the Bedouin community of Rahat. Their father and a 25-year-old brother are still in captivity.

During the seven-day “hudna” (pause), 105 hostages were released, including 81 Israelis and 24 foreign nationals. In exchange, Israel freed 210 Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners — all of whom were women or minors — and allowed deliveries by 200 trucks per day, filled with food, water, medicine and fuel, into Gaza.

At least 1,200 people were killed in the October 7 Hamas invasion and attack on Israeli communities near the Gaza border. Some people are still unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.