Families of Israelis held captive in Gaza have refuted claims that they were behind the leak of audio in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Qatar’s role in the negotiations with Hamas for the release of the captives.
Denial of Involvement in the LeakHaim Rubinstein, a spokesperson for the families, emphasized that all conversations in meetings with the Prime Minister are recorded by his office and associates present at the meeting. He further clarified that the families participating in the meeting had their phones taken at the entrance, denying any involvement in the leak. The families have expressed concerns regarding the leak, describing it as a “grave issue” that indicates a loss of control.
Prime Minister's Office's Blame GameIn response to the leak, the prime minister’s office initially blamed one of the family members. The office insisted on having evidence in the form of a text message from one of the family members present at the meeting, as reported by Israeli media outlet Walla.
Netanyahu's Criticism and Its ImpactThe leaked audio revealed Netanyahu’s criticism of Qatar’s involvement in the release of captives, deeming it “problematic.” He also expressed dissatisfaction with Qatar’s financing of Hamas and the extension of a military base in the Gulf state by the United States. This criticism has drawn a strong reaction from Majed Al-Ansari, the spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, who expressed being “appalled” by the remarks.
Background of Captivity and NegotiationsThe captives were taken by Hamas fighters during an attack into southern Israel, resulting in significant casualties. Subsequently, extensive negotiations facilitated by Qatar and the US led to the release of over 100 captives in late November. However, approximately 130 captives are still held by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and discussions continue in pursuit of a new release agreement.
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