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Qatar PM hopes for breakthrough 'soon' on release of hostages held by Hamas

DOHA: Qatar’s prime minister said on Wednesday (Oct 25) there was some progress on hostage negotiations after Palestinian militant group Hamas abducted more than 200 hostages during its Oct 7 rampage in southern Israel.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who is also the minister of foreign affairs, said at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart that he hoped there would be breakthroughs on hostage releases “soon”.

Wealthy gas producer Qatar has had an open dialogue with both Israel and Hamas, which has brought about the release of four hostages held by Hamas, including two Israeli women on Monday.

The Gulf state, in coordination with the US, is leading mediation talks with Hamas and Israeli officials over the hostages’ release as Israel prepares a ground assault on the enclave.

Speaking in Doha, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said an Israeli ground operation into Gaza would turn the fighting there into a massacre.

Fidan said that those supporting Israel’s actions under the pretence of solidarity were “accomplices to its crimes”.

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About 222 people aged from nine months to 85 years were seized on Oct 7 when Hamas and other militants went on a killing spree through southern Israel, shooting motorists, hunting down civilians including children in their own homes, and burning and stabbing people to death, according to survivors’ accounts.

Israel has responded with a bombing campaign and a siege of Gaza.

The Palestinian health ministry said on Wednesday at least 5,791 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli bombardments since Oct 7, including 2,360 children. About 704 were killed in the previous 24 hours alone.

“The number of children killed in Gaza exceeds the number of children killed in Ukraine, but we have not seen the same reaction,” Sheikh Mohammed said, stressing that the only way to reach a peaceful solution in Gaza was to keep communication channels open.

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