by Tal Schneider and Gianluca Pacchiani at The Times of Israel
Mossad spy agency chief David Barnea is in Doha for talks with CIA director William Burns and top Qatari officials, The Times of Israel was told Tuesday, amid efforts to release hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other terror groups.
Burns was said set to hold a meeting with Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
Since the start of the war, Barnea has made three trips to Qatar, which has been mediating between Israel and Hamas. He has also reportedly hosted top Qatari officials in Israel.
The visit came after Israel and Hamas agreed on a two-day extension of the initial four-day truce in order to allow for the release of at least 20 more hostages. A total of some 240 hostages were abducted to Gaza on October 7, when terrorists rampaged through southern communities, murdering at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
The talks are focused on ensuring the smooth release of the additional 20 hostages and possibly expanding the temporary truce for more days in order to ensure the release of all the women and children held by terror groups in Gaza.
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Blinken to Visit Israel, West Bank, With Eye on Extending the Truce
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return later this week to Israel and the West Bank as the US hopes to find a way to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza and get more of the hostages held there released, the State Department said Monday.
It will be his third trip to the region since Hamas launched a war with Israel on October 7, when thousands of terrorists from Gaza invaded southern Israeli communities, massacring 1,200 people, mostly civilians in their homes and at a music festival, and taking some 240 hostages.
Blinken will travel to the Middle East after attending Ukraine-focused meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels and Skopje, North Macedonia, where foreign ministers from NATO and the Organization for Peace and Security in Europe are gathering.
The four-day truce agreement between Israel and Hamas had been due to expire early Tuesday but was extended for an additional two days, meaning the extension will presumably be expiring just as Blinken arrives.
Hamas has freed 50 Israeli women and children since Friday when the lull in fighting took effect, and also released 18 foreign nationals and one Israeli, a dual Russian citizen, as part of separate agreements. Israel released 150 Palestinian security prisoners, mostly women and underage males…
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