White House In “Intense Negotiations” To Free Hostages As Dead Israeli Woman Found Near Gaza Hospital
The White House has said it is still involved in “intense negotiations” toward securing the release of hostages held by Hamas, however no deal has yet to materialize.
US national security spokesman John Kirby issued an update on Thursday, confirming the US has a “team of the ground” which is working “by the hour” on a potential deal. These back-channel talks have reportedly centered on Qatar, which has served as a mediator with Hamas.
“We are in some intense negotiations; hopefully they’ll come out the right way and we’ll have good news to talk about with multiple hostages getting free,” Kirby told CNN. “But we don’t have a deal right now, and until we do, the less said the better.”
The day prior, on Wednesday, there were widespread – albeit premature – reports that a deal was on the table which would see the release of 50 hostages in exchange for a three-day stoppage in fighting, or temporary truce.
“The deal, under discussion and coordinated with the U.S., would also see Israel release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails and increase the amount of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza,” an official privy to the negotiations said.
But Israel’s defense ministry has said Thursday it is continuing to “mop up” northern Gaza, and there are signs it intends to expand anti-Hamas operations to the south too, where the bulk of the Strip’s civilians have fled.
Qatar has thus far secured the release of a few prisoners, but still Israel has denied there are any plans for a major, multi-day halt in fighting. The IDF has only in the last half-day fully secured Al-Shifa hospital, which it claims was used as a Hamas command center.
But more bad news has emerged concerning the over 230 Israeli and foreign hostages still in captivity. The IDF on Wednesday said that during operations near Al-Shifa, the body of a deceased 65-year old Israeli woman was found in a nearby building.
“The body of the abductee, the late Yehudit Weiss, was recovered by IDF forces from the 603rd Battalion of the 7th Brigade Combat Team from a building near the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip to the territory of the State of Israel,” the IDF said in a statement posted to X.
Held hostage: Yehudit Weiss
Yehudit hasn’t been heard from since the morning of Oct 7, when she and her husband, Shmulik, were in their Kibbutz Be’eri safe room. Hamas terrorists shot Shmulik.
Yehudit’s phone was later traced to Gaza. She had been undergoing treatment for… pic.twitter.com/DF5xWe0YHw
— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) November 10, 2023
“In the building where the late Judith was found, military equipment and weapons of the Kalashnikov type and an RPG missile were also found.” The statement detailed further:
“After an identification procedure carried out by medical officials and military rabbis, together with the Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Israel Police, today (Thursday), representatives of the IDF and the police informed the family of the late Judith Weiss, who was kidnapped on Saturday 10/7/23 from her home in Bari. We share in the family’s grief.”
The IDF added that it won’t cease in urgent hostage recovery efforts: “The national mission before our eyes is to locate the missing and return the abducted home.”
Currently, the messaging out of Israeli officials and national media is that Hamas is against the ropes and on the verge of total defeat. But the IDF has suffered over 50 confirmed troop deaths since launching the ground assault – and the real figure could be significantly higher. The vast network of Hamas tunnels under the Strip also presents a monumental military challenge.
Thu, 11/16/2023 – 18:40