OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:12 PM – Monday, October 30, 2023
According to a former U.S. official with knowledge of the negotiations, discussions to liberate some of the 239 hostages held by Hamas came to a standstill on Friday after the organization requested that Israel permit fuel delivery to Gaza and Hamas refused to guarantee the release of a significant number of international detainees.
“Hamas has been insistent on receiving fuel,” said the former U.S. official, who asked for anonymity since they were not authorized to talk publicly. “The Israel and U.S. side, plus other countries, want a large batch of their citizens released.”
“Talks were going very well on Thursday, and negotiators were hopeful a deal could be reached over the weekend,” said the diplomat. “But differences emerged early Friday, which led to talks stalling.”
Since the unexpected terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7th that resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 Israeli people, discussions have been underway to release the 239 captives, including youngsters and senior citizens. Other Gazan factions also took hostages following Hamas’ breach of Israel’s border wall.
It is reported that almost half of the detainees are people holding passports from up to 25 different nations, including about 54 Thais, 15 Argentineans, 12 Americans, 12 Germans, 6 French, and 6 Russians.
On Friday, White House officials mentioned in a public statement that they appeared to be involved in the efforts to bring hostages back home.
“We would support humanitarian pauses for stuff getting in, as well as for people getting out,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told the press. “That includes pushing for fuel to get in and for the restoration of electrical power.”
A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, which served as a middleman in the first two hostage releases, Jason Straziuso, stated that a significant amount of trust would be required before many prisoners could be let free.
“With a large group, the logistics just become that much more difficult. There’s a limit to how many people we can put in a Red Cross Land Cruiser. There’s a limit to how many vehicles we have in Gaza. There’s a limit to how much fuel we have right now… A large-scale release will take a lot more planning, a lot more faith between the sides, a lot more trust that it can happen without incident,” Straziuso said.
However, by Friday evening, trust had evaporated, and Israeli officials accused Hamas of dragging out the negotiations to delay a ground invasion.
“I suggest do not pay attention to the rumors… This is psychological terror by Hamas,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the IDF.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, declared later in the day that Hamas was available to discuss an exchange agreement in a statement posted on its website.
“We are ready for an immediate exchange deal that includes the release of all prisoners in the prisons of the Zionist enemy,” Sinwar said, “in exchange for the release of all prisoners with the resistance.”
On the other hand, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters that the only approach to releasing detainees was to step up Israeli assaults on the terrorist group.
“The more we hit out at [Hamas], we know that they will be willing to come to some kind of agreement… and we will be able to bring our dearly beloved hostages home,” Gallant maintained.
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