Qatar Tells Hostage Families That Israel’s Killing of Hamas Official in Beirut Complicates Negotiations

Qatar's prime minister met with family members of Israelis held in Gaza

Qatar’s prime minister and other officials met with family members of six Israelis held captive in Gaza on Saturday and told them Israel’s killing of a senior Hamas official in Beirut made negotiating a new hostage deal much more difficult, several media outlets have reported.

Israel launched a drone strike in Beirut on January 2 that killed Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau, who played a key role in negotiating the deal that resulted in over 100 Israelis and over 200 Palestinians being freed. A day before the drone strike, Israeli officials told the media that Hamas was showing a willingness to negotiate.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani hosted families of Israeli hostages in Doha and told them Qatar was committed to working toward their release. “We have engaged directly with the hostages’ families to share as much information as possible, and to assure them that Qatar is committed to using every resource to secure their release. We will continue to engage with these families,” a Qatari official told Axios.

The official said Qatar is “using every possible channel” but stressed that “Qatar is a mediator”  and “does not control Hamas.” The official said it’s become “increasingly difficult” to maintain channels of communication due to the “escalation of bombardment in Gaza and elsewhere, which candidly complicates the hostage negotiations.”

Besides sabotaging negotiations, the Israeli drone strike in Beirut also risks a major regional war that could draw in the US. Hezbollah has vowed retaliation and said it fired 62 rockets at an Israeli observation post on Saturday in what it called a “preliminary response” to the assassination of al-Arouri.

The Israel strike on Beirut marked the first time Israel bombed the Lebanese capital since the 2006 Lebanon War. In November,  Axios reported that US officials were worried Israel was trying to provoke Hezbollah as a pretext for a wider war in Lebanon.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.