update deskIsrael at War

Report: Egyptian intel chief in Israel for hostage talks

Hamas is reportedly willing to return 20 hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza.

Israelis call for the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, outside a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2024. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Israelis call for the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, outside a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2024. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel was leading a delegation to Tel Aviv on Friday to advance negotiations for a hostages-for-ceasefire deal between Israel and the Hamas terror group, the Qatari-owned Al-Arabi Al-Jadid reported.

Kamel will reportedly meet with Mossad head David Barnea and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

The visit comes amid Hebrew-language media reports that Israel’s War Cabinet is willing to forge an agreement for the return of as few as 20 hostages instead of 40 in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The captives would include women, men over 50 years old and those who are seriously ill, according to the reports.

Last week, Hamas reportedly dropped the number of hostages it is willing to release in the first stage of any deal with Israel from 40 to 20. Hamas is also demanding the release of more hardened terrorists and a higher ratio of jailed Palestinian terrorists released per Israeli hostage freed.

While Israel has shown flexibility in the hopes of arriving at a hostage deal, Hamas has impeded an agreement, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said last week.

“Israel moved a significant way in submitting that proposal,” he said, adding: “There was a deal on the table that would achieve much of what Hamas claims it wants to achieve, and they have not taken that deal.”

On Wednesday, Hamas released a video of 23-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who has been held hostage by the terrorist group in Gaza since Oct. 7.

The three-minute recording was made for propaganda purposes and is undated, but Goldberg-Polin says in it that he has been a captive for “nearly 200 days,” suggesting it was filmed recently.

Goldberg-Polin was kidnapped from the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, where Hamas attacked, murdered, raped and burned 364 people and kidnapped 40 others. His left forearm was blown off during the assault.

U.S. President Joe Biden and 17 other world leaders issued a joint statement on Thursday calling on Hamas to immediately free all of the hostages and to accept a ceasefire.

“We strongly support the ongoing mediation efforts in order to bring our people home,” the leaders stated. “We reiterate our call on Hamas to release the hostages, and let us end this crisis so that collectively we can focus our efforts on bringing peace and stability to the region.”

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