US and Israeli intelligence chiefs have arrived in Doha to discuss the “next phase” of a deal between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, a source briefed on the visit said on Tuesday.
The leaders of the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad were scheduled to meet Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the source said, adding that Egyptian officials were also taking part.
“The director of the CIA and the director of the Israeli National Intelligence Agency are in Doha to meet with the Qatari prime minister,” the source told AFP, requesting anonymity due to the talks’ sensitivity.
The discussions aim “to build on the progress of the extended humanitarian pause agreement and to initiate further discussions about the next phase of a potential deal,” the source added.
Qatar has been engaged in intense negotiations, with support from Egypt and the United States, to extend the truce in Gaza that was originally due to last four days.
The gas-rich Gulf state announced late on Monday, the day of the truce’s expiry, that successful talks with Israel and Hamas had resulted in a two-day extension.
Over the initial four-day pause, 50 civilian hostages -- all women and children -- were freed in return for 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
On Tuesday, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman said the mediator would use the extension to work towards a “sustainable truce” between Israel and Hamas.
“Our main focus right now, and our hope, is to reach a sustainable truce that will lead to further negotiations and eventually to an end ... to this war,” Majed Al Ansari told reporters.
“However, we are working with what we have. And what we have right now is the provision to the agreement that allows us to extend days as long as Hamas is able to guarantee the release of at least 10 hostages.”
Ansari confirmed the truce would continue with the release of 20 further hostages. “We are hopeful that in the next 48 hours we will be getting more information from Hamas regarding the rest of the hostages,” he added.
The spokesman said “minimal breaches” in recent days had not “harmed the essence of the agreement.”
Qatar has held parallel negotiations between Hamas and other nations which led to the release of 17 Thais, one Filipino and one Russian-Israeli dual national.
Before Friday, just four hostages had been released by Hamas. A fifth had been rescued by Israeli troops and two more found dead.
Israel says around 240 hostages were seized when Hamas gunmen stormed across Gaza’s militarized border on October 7 and mounted the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
Israel says the attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which the Hamas government says have killed almost 15,000 people, most of them women and children.