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Israel has called its team of negotiators back from Doha after the talks on the Gaza truce reportedly met “a dead end” due to the “delusional” demands made by Hamas, a senior official said on Tuesday. News agency Reuters reported that the official, who is close to Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, accused Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar of sabotaging the diplomacy “as part of a wider effort to inflame this war over Ramadan”. 

The warring sides had stepped up negotiations for a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the release of 40 out of the 130 Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. 

According to the Reuters report, the Palestinian militant group sought to negotiate a deal to end the fight and hasten the withdrawal of Israeli forces. Qatar and Egypt facilitated the negotiations in Doha.

Hamas also wants the thousands of Palestinians who fled Gaza City and surrounding areas southward during the initial stages of the war to be allowed back north However, Israel has firmly rejected this proposal, asserting its intention to resume efforts aimed at dismantling Hamas’s governance and military infrastructure. 

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The Israeli official also said that the country has agreed to double the number of Palestinians it would release in exchange for the hostages. It said that it would release around 700-800 prisoners and allow some of the displaced Palestinians to return to northern Gaza. 

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declared that Hamas had made “delusional” demands and that this showed Palestinians were not interested in a deal.

In Doha, Egypt and Qatar tried to bridge the divide between Israel and Hamas regarding the terms of a ceasefire amidst a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where a quarter of the population faces the threat of famine. Hamas has accused Israel of stalling at the talks while it carries out its military offensive.

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