Talks over the release of some of the 230 hostages held by Hamas stalled on Friday after the group demanded Israel allow fuel shipments to Gaza and Hamas refused to guarantee the release of a large number of foreign prisoners, it said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the negotiations.
“Hamas insisted on receiving fuel,” said the former U.S. official, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “The Israeli and US sides, as well as other countries, want a large proportion of their citizens to be released.”
The former U.S. official, an Israeli official and a diplomat with knowledge of the talks said the talks collapsed before Israel launched the second phase of its offensive on Friday evening, sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip.
“The talks went very well on Thursday and negotiators were confident that an agreement could be reached over the weekend,” said the diplomat with knowledge of the talks, who also was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. “But disagreements arose early on Friday, causing talks to stall.”
Negotiations for the release of 230 hostages, including children and the elderly, have been ongoing since the October 7 Hamas terror attack that killed more than 1,000 Israeli civilians. The hostages are believed to be people with passports from multiple countries 25 foreign countriesincluding an estimated 54 Thais, 15 Argentines, 12 Americans, 12 Germans, six French and six Russians.
Israel expanded its operations in Gaza on Saturday, sending in tanks and infantry.