Qatar and other regional and world powers have mobilised in a bid to de-escalate mounting tensions since the beginning of the Israeli war.
Qatar believes that more Israeli captives can be released “very soon” after Doha successfully facilitated the release of two Americans on Friday, a top official said.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari discussed the country’s ongoing diplomatic channels in an interview with German Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Saturday.
“The release of the two American nationals proved to us and our partners that the efforts made in the past days are feasible and must continue,” he said.
Doha has been a vital intermediary in negotiating the potential release of captives held by Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, which captured around 200 Israelis and Western nationals during its unprecedented operation on October 7.
Qatar and other regional and world powers have mobilised in a bid to de-escalate mounting tensions since the beginning of the Israeli war, engaging in high-level diplomatic talks to avoid a potential regional spillover of violence.
The Gulf nation is working towards a specific agreement under which all civilian captives will initially be released, Al-Ansari further elaborated.
“I can’t promise you this will happen today or tomorrow or after tomorrow. But we are taking a path that will very soon lead to the release of the hostages, especially civilians.”
Reports last week said the United States immediately approached Qatar for assistance in securing the release of American captives in the aftermath of the incident.
On Saturday, Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, said it was willing to unconditionally release two additional female captives “for humanitarian reasons” but accused Israel of declining the offer.
“We informed Qatar that we would release two other female prisoners for compelling humanitarian reasons without anything in return, but the occupation refused to receive them,” disclosed Abu Obeida, the Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson.
Abu Obeida also indicated the group was ready to proceed with the release under “the same procedures” as before.
Following the reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied the existence of such an offer.
His office stated, “We will not respond to mendacious propaganda by Hamas; we will continue to do everything necessary to bring all the captives and missing back home.”
An official from Hamas’ prisoner file remarked that Netanyahu “kills prisoners held by the resistance and does not want to return them safely.”
The discussions come against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating military campaign on Gaza that commenced on 7 October in response to ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.’
Israeli occupation forces have killed 4,385 Palestinians, including at least 1,756 children, within 15 days. Furthermore, Israel’s bombardment campaign has led to the deaths of more than 10 Israeli hostages in Gaza, Hamas said.
Netanyahu, who faces domestic pressure to ensure the safe return of the Israeli captives, has indicated a willingness to intensify military operations on Gaza.
Through Qatari mediation, Hamas has reportedly sought to release the captives if Israel stops bombing Gaza and releases a number of Palestinian prisoners in return.
There are at least 1,264 administrative detainees and 170 child prisoners behind Israeli bars, per figures shared by Palestine’s Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report said US and European governments have been exerting diplomatic pressure on Israel to delay its planned ground invasion of Gaza in order to provide a window for covert talks mediated by Qatar to secure the release of more captives held by Hamas.
Israel initially resisted delaying its military operation but it ultimately complied under the weight of US and European persuasion.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it remains committed to the ongoing negotiations, stating it will “continue our dialogue with both the Israelis and Hamas, and we hope these efforts will lead to the release of all civilian hostages from every nationality.”