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Heads of CIA, Mossad may discuss hostage deal in Cairo on Feb 13

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London: US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Burns and the head of the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service (Mossad), David Barnea, may hold a meeting in Cairo on February 13 to resume negotiations on an agreement between Israel and Hamas to cease hostilities and secure the release of hostages, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources.

Egyptian and Qatari officials are also expected to take part in the negotiations, the report said. Moreover, they believe Barnea’s plan to visit Egypt was a sign that Israel was still ready to negotiate a possible agreement with Hamas, the report added.

An unnamed diplomat briefed on the progress of the negotiations told the newspaper that previous discussions had been constructive and noted that there was a desire to reach a compromise.

At the same time, the diplomat said that the main sticking points are still the issue of a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, the newspaper reported.

On October 7, 2023, the Gaza Strip-controlling Hamas movement launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel and breached the border, attacking both civilian neighbourhoods and military bases. As a result, over 1,200 people in Israel were killed, and some 240 others were abducted.

Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, and started a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave with the declared goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages. Over 28,300 people have been killed so far in the Gaza Strip, local authorities said.

On November 24, Qatar mediated a deal between Israel and Hamas on a temporary truce and the exchange of some of the prisoners and hostages, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire was extended several times and expired on December 1. More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

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