Photo Credit: Chuck Kennedy/State Department.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, Qatar on Oct. 13, 2023.

An official plane arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport from Qatar on Tuesday morning for the second time in a week. It’s not clear who was aboard the flight nor is the reason for the arrival clear.

There have been ongoing conversations taking place between Israeli, US and Qatari intelligence officials about whether and how to extend the ceasefire with Hamas in order to free more hostages.


High-ranking Mossad personnel have been traveling to the Qatari capital, Doha, on a regular basis since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas, launched by the terrorist organization on October 7.

It is also worth noting that two of the highest-ranking Hamas leaders, Khaled Meshaal, and Ismail Haniyeh, both live in Doha. Qatar has been the largest financial benefactor of the terrorist organization, despite the loud and visible backing of Hamas by Iran.

Multiple Israeli media reported last week that Israel promised Doha neither Hamas chief would be eliminated while in Qatar, despite an Israeli promise to kill both.

In addition, the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar is the largest US military installation in the Middle East, hosting more than 10,000 American military personnel.

Qatar has invested billions in Gaza; but Dohan also invested at least $8 billion in the construction and maintenance of Al-Udeid, which serves as a hub for overseas American operations, particularly in relations to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

So, it’s no surprise that Qatari, US and Israeli intelligence officials are meeting together in Doha about Hamas and Gaza.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani is also joining the discussion, set to take place Tuesday.

The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, is now in Doha to discuss the release of the remaining hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, particularly those who are male, and those who are IDF soldiers. Up to this point, only females and children have been freed.

Israeli Mossad director David Barnea arrived in Doha on Tuesday as well, to join the discussion, which is taking place against the backdrop of an agreement reached between Hamas and Israel to extend the current “hudna” (temporary ceasefire) for two more days. During that time, Hamas has pledged to release 20 more hostages – 10 each day – while Israel will release 60 convicted Palestinian Authority terrorists, 30 each day, in exchange.

So why did an official Qatari plane land in Israel on Tuesday morning? Might it have something to do with the anticipated visit to the region by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken?

According to a statement on Monday by State Department spokesperson Matt Miller in Washington, Blinken will discuss Israel’s right to defend itself consistent with international humanitarian law, as well as continued efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages, protect civilian life during Israel’s operations in Gaza, and accelerate humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.”

Blinken is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday after first making stops in Brussels and Skopje (North Macedonia) for a gathering of NATO foreign ministers and the Organization for Peace and Security in Europe.

It’s still not clear how anyone expects Israel to “protect civilian life” in Gaza when the enclave’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization refuses to do so, and in fact uses its population as human shields to protect its own operatives during and after attacks on Israel.

Military leaders around the world realize this is not just impractical — it’s not realistic. Consider the actions taken by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example: when faced with the question of whether to take out the enemy or opt first to protect “innocent civilians” the choice was clear, as it has been elsewhere around the world at present as well as in the past.

Moreover, a large percentage of the so-called “civilians” in Gaza are themselves anything but innocent, as proven by video footage on social media and the personal account of one of the Israeli hostages who escaped captivity but was caught and handed back to Hamas by the so-called “innocent civilians.”

As these discussions are taking place, negotiators are also faced now with an additional dilemma: Hamas terrorists violated the current ceasefire not once, but several times on Tuesday afternoon at two separate locations in northern Gaza. Hamas cited an IDF mission to arrest a wanted terror suspect in the Palestinian Authority town of Tubas, in eastern Samaria, as the ceasefire “breach” by Israel it claimed as justification for the attacks.

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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.