Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
Trucks with Humanitarian aid arrive at the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, December 18, 2023.

Qatar is not confident about the prospect for success in any further hostage talks between Israel and Hamas.

“The pattern in the last few days is not really very promising but as I always repeat, we will always remain optimistic and will always keep pushing,” Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.


“I believe in this agreement we are talking at a bigger scale and we still see some difficulties on the humanitarian part of these negotiations,” he said.

Hamas threatened this weekend to pull out of the talks altogether, according to the AFP news agency.

“The movement intends to suspend negotiations until aid is brought into northern Gaza,” a senior source in the Palestinian group told the news agency. “Negotiations cannot be held while hunger is ravaging the Palestinian people.”

But Gazans are not starving.

Food and Water Available in Gaza
A second waterline from the Egyptian side of Rafah to the Gazan side of Rafah was successfully connected, COGAT reported on Friday. “This is a project done by the United Arab Emirates and is expected to supply water to residents of the southern part of Gaza.”

The coordination of the repair of vital infrastructure was also successfully completed, COGAT said.

At present 15 bakeries are operating in Gaza, providing more than two million loaves of breads, rolls, and pita breads daily for the local population.

“Over the last 2 weeks, the number of operational bakeries went up from 10 to 12 and now to 15, following COGAT’s facilitation.”

Israeli hostages who were freed from captivity report that they were regularly starved by their terrorist captors, receiving one pita bread per day and sometimes not even that.

Israel Pulls Out of Talks
Israel pulled out of the talks brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the US earlier this week after a high-ranking delegation traveled to Cairo to participate in the negotiations and returned to Jerusalem empty-handed.

No Change in ‘Delusional’ Hamas Demands
In an official statement, Hamas listed its conditions for returning Israel’s hostages; conditions which have not changed since the start of the talks, and which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “delusional.”

“The resistance will not accept anything less than the complete cessation of aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation army outside the Strip, lifting the oppressing siege, providing safe and appropriate shelter for the displaced and homeless due to the crimes of the occupation, the return of the displaced especially to the north of the Strip, stopping the barbaric starvation policy, and commitment to reconstruction, all of which are humanitarian requirements and a consensus in the United Nations, human rights institutions, and the decision of the International Court of Justice, and the occupation must comply with them,” Hamas said Saturday in a separate statement.

“Achieving a prisoner exchange deal through which our prisoners are released, especially the old and those with high sentences, is one of the goals of these negotiations, and it cannot be overlooked.”

Humanitarian Aid and Rocket Attacks
The terrorist organization continues to accuse Israel of targeting Gazans with “a genocide through a systematic policy of starvation and blocking aid” while holding 134 Israeli hostages (including at least 31 who are no longer living) and to attack Israeli civilians with rocket attacks launched from within its own civilian population.

A rocket fired at the coastal city of Ashkelon in southern Israel was intercepted on Saturday by the IDF Aerial Defense Array. In less than 30 minutes, Israeli forces spotted the terrorist responsible for the launch from northern Gaza, and coordinated with the Air Force to eliminate the attacker.

Israeli inspectors have cleared hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for entry to Gaza, but the aid has not been picked up by the international aid organizations tasked with accepting and distributing the supplies to civilians in the enclave.

The issue of providing humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians is one that is constantly raised by the international community, despite the fact that Israel has little control over the matter once its inspectors have approved the shipments for delivery to the enclave.

“Currently, the content of 500 trucks are waiting to be picked up and distributed by UN organizations receiving the aid on the Gazan side. In order to facilitate this, Kerem Shalom crossing will be closed today (Feb.16),” COGAT said.


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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.