A delegation of senior Israeli security officials headed by the head of the IDF’s
Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, are in Qatar to conduct efforts to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, the London Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Monday.
According to the report, Halevi and other senior officials from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad and the National Security Council (NSC), flew to Qatar’s capital city of Doha on Monday, where they are currently discussing ceasefire terms to be presented to Hamas leaders, including Hamas’s political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh.
The IDF did not comment on the report.
The report added that although Egypt has taken the role of peacemaker between Hamas and Israel, the IDF wants Qatar to step into negotiation efforts rather than just providing financial aid to Hamas.
Qatar has been providing financial aid to Gaza for the past two years, sending funds every month to finance fuel for its power plant, pay the salaries of Hamas’s civil servants and assist tens of thousands of impoverished Gazan families.
Qatar first began funding the Gaza Strip with payments of $5 million per month, which eventually rose to $10 million, $20 million, and as of this year, $30 million. According to the report, Hamas is now demanding $40 million every month for a “pre-determined long-term period of time.”
Halevi was already in Doha earlier this year, with Mossad head Yossi Cohen, for similar reasons.
The report of the delegation in Qatar comes on the background of escalating tensions on the Gaza border, with the continuous launching of rockets and hundreds of arson balloons by Hamas into southern Israel, kindling hundreds of fires and burning thousands of dumans of agricultural land. On Thursday, a Sderot family miraculously escaped unscathed when rocket shrapnel split their house into two.
Meanwhile, all of Hamas’s leaders have gone into hiding underground in fear of Israel eliminating them through targeted killings following warnings by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)