The New York Times published a report revealing some details of the role played by the State of Qatar in the release of the two American detainees in Gaza.

Writers Jeffrey Gittleman, Adam Goldman, Edward Wong and Ben Hubbard said in a joint report that on October 7, a few hours after Hamas began its attack on Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, and raised the issue of "hostages" with him, according to two senior US State Department officials.

Many diplomats hoped that Qatar could play the role of mediator, and that's exactly what happened.

Over the course of roughly the next two weeks, Blinken, other U.S. officials, their Qatari counterparts, and representatives from Turkey, Egypt, France and several other countries held nuanced conversations about how to release the captives. Qatar played a big role in making this a success.

Thanks to Qataris

The first thing U.S. officials did on Friday night, when Hamas released the two detainees, Judith and Natalie Raanan, was to thank the Qataris.

Intelligence experts say Hamas likely divided the hostages into small groups and separated Israeli soldiers from civilians, adding that the rescue operation is extremely risky and dangerous at the moment, leaving officials from the group of nations frantically continuing their negotiations.

According to a number of officials, Israel has refused to negotiate with Hamas, and instead the IDF is massing tanks and armored personnel carriers on the Gaza border in preparation for what is described as a large-scale invasion.

The book quoted former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Perry as saying that Israel may have agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza on Saturday morning in light of the detainees being released on Friday night.

Humanitarian reasons

Hamas leaders said on Friday they had decided to release the mother and daughter "on humanitarian grounds."

U.S. officials have remained in close contact with the Qataris throughout this crisis, with Blinken spending a few hours in Qatar on Oct. 13, during a visit to seven countries in the Middle East.

A U.S. official said Qatari officials had informed Blinken of concrete steps the Americans could begin to take to try to release detainees.

According to one regional official familiar with the negotiations, Hamas agreed, in principle, to release all civilian detainees if Israel ceases its attacks on Gaza.

Captured soldiers

Hamas has made it clear that it will not release any Israeli soldiers until an agreement is reached to release Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Several senior officials said this was conveyed to the Israelis, but the Israelis have not yet agreed to consider any of Hamas's proposals, including a halt to the bombing, and Israel has also not specified exactly how many Israeli soldiers were captured.

Qatar has a track record of assisting in difficult situations like this, a role that has given it tremendous influence on the international stage.