Doha, Qatar
Doha, QatariStock

The Qatari Prime Minister and other officials told family members of six US and Israeli hostages who were visiting Doha that this week's killing of senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut has made efforts to secure a new deal much more difficult, Axios’ Barak Ravid reported on Saturday, citing a Qatari official and an Israeli source.

Saturday's meeting was the first time Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has hosted families of Israeli hostages in Doha. His message illustrates just how complex any efforts to secure a new hostage deal have become as tensions rise across the region.

It also signals how important this issue is for the Qatari Prime Minister and government, the Qatari official said.

Israeli media first reported on Friday that the families of six hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip were in Qatar as part of the efforts to relaunch indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a new hostage release deal.

According to Axios, the families met with the Qatari Prime Minister and told him the stories of their loved ones who are being held hostage in Gaza, said the Qatari official and Israeli source.

The Qatari Prime Minister told the group the current negotiations are very complex and briefed them on the challenges Doha is facing on both sides in its efforts to secure a new deal, the sources said.

Those challenges now include the recent escalation of tensions after the elimination of al-Arouri, which was attributed to Israel, which has not commented on the incident.

"The Prime Minister said it is more difficult to talk to Hamas after what happened in Beirut," the Qatari official told Axios.

The Qatari Prime Minister told the family members that he was personally committed to continuing to try and secure a new hostage deal and that he was not going to give up regardless of the challenges, the Qatari official and the Israeli source said.

The family members also met Qatar's minister of state for foreign affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, who is heading the Qatari negotiation team with Hamas and Israel.

Qatar, together with Egypt, mediated the first hostage release deal in November.

On Monday, it was reported that Hamas forwarded to Israel, through the Egyptian and Qatari mediators, a proposal for the release of hostages which includes an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Israel rejected the proposal.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with families of the hostages held in Gaza by the Hamas terrorist organization.

"The effort [to return the hostages] continues, the contacts are taking place, they have not been cut off," Netanyahu assured them, adding, "There was an ultimatum from Hamas, now it has softened a bit."