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Assassination of Hamas leader suspends talks on Israeli hostage release

Assassination of Hamas leader suspends talks on Israeli hostage release Assassination of Hamas leader suspends talks on Israeli hostage release (photo: Getty Images)

The assassination of Hamas leader Saleh al-Auri in a Beirut suburb on Tuesday, January 2, suspended negotiations with Hamas on the release of hostages, according to NBC News.

An official noted that Hamas currently has no incentive to release the remaining hostages because as soon as they do so during a negotiating pause, Israel will resume bombing.

According to another senior administration official familiar with the discussions, last month's high-level talks in Warsaw between CIA Director Bill Burns, Qatari Hamas representatives, and the head of the Mossad laid the groundwork for a deal, but no agreement was reached.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Doha today, said he would speak with officials from Qatar and other countries about efforts to bring the American and other hostages home.

Separately, high-ranking Qatari officials met with the hostages' families after they requested a visit to Qatar on humanitarian grounds, a diplomatic source familiar with the visit told the media. The meetings were constructive, and the Qataris reiterated their efforts to free all remaining hostages.

According to the source, official talks between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Qatar, are continuing, although recent events have affected the atmosphere around the talks.

While Israel has not yet officially claimed responsibility for al-Auri's murder, four sources previously told NBC News that it was the case.

The killing of Saleh al-Auri

On January 2, the leader of the Hamas group was killed along with his bodyguards in a drone strike in a Beirut suburb known to be a Hezbollah stronghold.

Auri, the commander of Hamas forces in the West Bank in exile and a veteran Hamas leader who spent 17 years in Israeli prisons, was the deputy leader of the Islamist group, Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel's war with Hamas

On November 24, a temporary truce began between Jerusalem and the militants to release prisoners, with Qatar acting as a mediator. Already on December 1, hostilities resumed, according to Israel, due to Hamas' violation of the truce.

On December 20, Israel offered the Palestinians a truce for a week. However, Hamas rejected the proposal.

At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named three conditions that must be met to end the war against the Palestinian militants of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.