Israel-Hamas talks on Gaza truce ‘stalling’: Qatari PM

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Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to secure a truce in Gaza and a release of hostages have stalled, Qatar’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

“We are going through a sensitive stage with some stalling, and we are trying as much as possible to address this stalling,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a news conference with Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu.

Qatar, with the United States and Egypt, has been engaged in weeks of behind-the-scenes talks to secure a truce in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

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Negotiators are trying to “move forward and put an end to the suffering that the people in Gaza are experiencing and returning the hostages,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The mediators had hoped to secure a ceasefire before the start of Ramadan, but progress repeatedly faltered without any cessation of hostilities in the Muslim holy month which ended last week.

Instead, fears have grown of the months-long war in Gaza spilling over into a regional conflict after Iran’s first-ever direct attack on its arch-foe Israel this weekend.

The Qatari premier said Doha had “warned from the beginning of this war against the expansion of the circle of conflict, and today we see conflicts on different fronts.”

“We constantly call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and stop this war,” he added, saying people of Gaza faced “siege and starvation” with humanitarian aid being used as a “tool for political blackmail.”

The war began when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,170 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s military has waged a retaliatory offensive against Hamas that has killed 33,899 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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Palestinian militants seized about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages during the October 7 attack on Israel, but dozens were released during a week-long truce in November.

Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

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