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Israel Refuses to Allow Civilians to Return to Northern Gaza Until More Hostages Released – Reports

Palestinians search building rubble for survivors following Israeli strikes on al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on December 11, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Israeli government will tell US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during meetings on Tuesday that Hamas must agree to a new hostage deal before Palestinians are allowed to return to northern Gaza, Axios reported, citing two senior Israeli officials. Blinken is set to visit Israel as part of a broader trip around the Middle East, during which he also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Israeli officials will tell Blinken that Israel will restrict Palestinians from returning to northern Gaza until Hamas agrees to release more hostages, the report said on Monday. On Sunday, Blinken said that Israel must allow Palestinian civilians to return home as soon as conditions permit. On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, during which they abducted approximately 240 people. In November, Qatar mediated a deal between Israel and Hamas on a temporary truce and the exchange of prisoners and hostages, which also facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The ceasefire was extended several times, but expired on December 1. Hamas’ attack on Israel left more than 1,200 Israelis dead, leading to retaliatory strikes and a ground operation in Gaza. More than 23,000 people in Gaza have been killed as a result of the fighting. Israeli negotiators believe that restricting the ability of Palestinians to return to northern Gaza serves as significant leverage in hostage negotiations with Hamas, the report said.MultimediaPhotos Reveal Aftermath of Israeli Strikes on Northern & Southern Gaza Strip13 November 2023, 10:37 GMT

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