newsIsrael at War

Israel assessing Qatar’s claim Hamas handing medical aid to hostages

The reported deliveries to the captives comes over a month after the vital drugs entered the Gaza Strip.

A Hamas terrorist releases Israeli hostages to the Red Cross, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 28, 2023. Credit: Flash90.
A Hamas terrorist releases Israeli hostages to the Red Cross, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 28, 2023. Credit: Flash90.

Israel is evaluating the credibility of Hamas’s confirmation to Qatar that the terrorist group in Gaza received a shipment of medical supplies in a deal brokered by Qatar and France and has started delivering them to hostages in Gaza.

Doha made the announcement on Tuesday evening, over one month after the badly needed medicines entered the coastal enclave.

“The Qatari announcement is the direct result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on receiving proof that the medicines have reached our hostages,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“Israel will evaluate the credibility of the report and continue to act for the well-being of our hostages,” the statement continued.

“Qatar received these confirmations as the mediator in the agreement, which includes the entry of the medicines and shipment of humanitarian aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip, especially in the most affected and damaged areas, in exchange for delivering the medicines needed by hostages in the sector,” Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman, Majed Al-Ansari, said in a statement.

In mid-January, Qatar and France mediated an agreement in which Israel would approve more humanitarian aid to Gaza in exchange for Hamas allowing medicine to be delivered to the hostages.

France purchased and delivered to Doha a list of medicines for some 45 captives who urgently needed them, with Qatar and Hamas announcing on Jan. 17 that the vital drugs had entered the Strip. A senior Hamas official said at the time that for every box provided for the hostages, 1,000 boxes of medicine were being sent in for Gazans.

Currently, 134 hostages remain in Gaza out of 253 kidnapped during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev. Israel has confirmed that 32 hostages are dead.

On Feb. 9, Qatar informed Israel and France of Hamas’s assurances that the medicines were delivered to the hostages, but the families of two hostages rescued from Rafah on Feb. 12 said their loved ones did not receive medication.

Israel and France have still not received independent verification that any captives received the medicines.

A secret operation to deliver medicines to the hostages was revealed on Feb. 16 when IDF soldiers found boxes of medicine at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis with the names of hostages on them.

Medicines marked for Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza found by IDF soldiers at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis on Feb. 16. Credit: IDF.

Rotem Cooper, whose father, Amiram Cooper, 85, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz and has been held in Gaza for 138 days, helped organize an operation to send medicine into the Gaza Strip for the hostages. The move was unknown to the Israeli government.

The medicine was transferred from European countries to Egypt and then to the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing, with help from local and international organizations, Channel 12 reported.

“We have no indication that the drugs actually reached one hostage or another. We will only know this if someone returns from captivity and reports that he has received a certain medication,” Rotem Cooper told the Israeli news network.

“My mother was released on day 17, before the shipment came in. The last abductees were released on day 55 and we did not thoroughly interrogate them on the matter. This was more or less around the time the first drugs went in,” he explained.

He started a WhatsApp chat group on Oct. 8, the day after the Hamas massacre, called “Medicines for Abductees.” It began as a way to gather information about which medicines were needed by the captives.

The group then took the initiative to send medicine independently of the government, the first shipment entered the Gaza Strip in mid-November.

The organizers had no intention of revealing the existence of the secret shipments and only did so because of the discovery by the IDF. “[W]e wanted to control the narrative. Of course, we really want to show that such initiatives bring results,” Rotem Cooper said.

Hamas delegation led by Haniyeh arrives in Cairo

Qatar-based Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for ceasefire talks, the terrorist group in Gaza announced on its Telegram channel.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas terrorist movement’s political bureau. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

He is heading a Hamas delegation in Egypt’s capital along with deputy Hamas chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya, who led a Hamas delegation for negotiations in Cairo earlier this month.

Haniyeh “came at the head of a delegation of the organization’s leadership, in order to hold discussions with Egyptian officials about the efforts to stop the aggression, provide relief to the citizens and achieve the goal of our people,” the Hamas statement read.

A summit was held in Cairo on Feb. 14 involving high-ranking officials from Egypt, Israel, Qatar and the United States to discuss the framework of a proposal to release the remaining hostages in exchange for an extended pause in fighting in Gaza. Lower-level officials then participated for another three days in the multilateral talks.

Netanyahu: No amount of pressure will stop Israel from finishing war

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel would continue the war until Hamas is defeated and again rejected the terror group’s “delusional demands” put forward as part of the ceasefire negotiations.

“There is considerable pressure on Israel at home and abroad to stop the war before we achieve all of its goals, including a deal at any price to free the hostages. We very much want to achieve another release and we are prepared to go far but we are not prepared to pay any price, certainly not the delusional prices that Hamas is demanding of us, the meaning of which is the defeat of the State of Israel,” the premier remarked during a visit to the IDF’s Sky Rider Unit at Zikim base near the Gaza border.

“We are committed to continuing the war until we achieve all of its goals: Eliminating Hamas, releasing all of the hostages and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel. There is no pressure, none, that can change this.”

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