update deskIsrael at War

Herzog: Hamas’s Sinwar to blame for impasse in hostage talks

"He seeks terror and the entire world and our entire region must know that the responsibility lies with him," said the Israeli president.

Israeli president Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal visit families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Nov. 9, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Israeli president Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal visit families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Nov. 9, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday blamed Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar for the breakdown in hostage negotiations and urged the international community to hold him to account.

“The reality is this—and the world and us must face it—everything begins and ends with Yahya Sinwar. He’s the one who decided on the October massacre, he’s been seeking to shed the blood of the innocent ever since, it is he who aims to escalate the regional situation, to desecrate Ramadan, to do everything to shatter coexistence in our country and in the whole region, to sow discord among us and around the world,” said Herzog.

“He seeks terror and the entire world and our entire region must know that the responsibility lies with him, and with him alone. It won’t work. We won’t allow it,” continued the president.

“At this moment, we must be united and determined. Israel is making every effort to bring the hostages home. Making every effort in a range of fields. In the end, there is no choice. We must continue the fight, and we must get to Sinwar—either alive or dead—so that we can see the hostages back home,” he added.

“From here, I offer strength to the families of the hostages, and I say to them: The State of Israel will do everything to bring them back home.”

On Monday night, Hamas told mediators that it was sticking to its demands for a “permanent ceasefire,” hours after praising the passing of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a temporary halt to fighting in Gaza.

Hamas is still holding 134 of the 253 hostages it captured during its Oct. 7 onslaught on the northwestern Negev. Some 1,200 people were killed during the attack and thousands more were wounded.

American, Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari interlocutors have been shuttling to Cairo, Doha and Paris in recent months in an attempt to hash out a ceasefire agreement that would see the release of the remaining abductees.

The Israeli delegation, led by Mossad chief David Barnea, was in the Qatari capital over the weekend amid reports that Jerusalem has softened its stance on critical components of a deal. They were waiting for a response from Hamas’s leadership in Gaza.

Barnea and the delegation returned to Israel on Saturday night after Hamas turned down the latest proposed agreement, however a source later told Reuters that a small group of Mossad officials will remain in Doha for negotiations.

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