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Israel won't allow Gazans to return to northern Gaza Strip until 'return of all the hostages,' says Israeli DM Gallant

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the assembly hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 19, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Monday that Israel would not permit Palestinians displaced by the war to return to northern Gaza until all the hostages are released.

The comments were made to relatives of the hostages remaining in Gaza and came amid negotiations between Hamas and Israel that would see the release of the hostages in exchange for a truce and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

The Hamas terrorist organization has reportedly demanded that Israel allow those who were displaced by the fighting in northern Gaza to return to their homes.

Gallant said Israel is maintaining a strong stance on the release of all hostages taken by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre that took 1,200 lives.

“We are working around the clock to push forward a framework that will allow the return of the hostages,” Gallant said.

“As part of the talks, we are working to maintain pressure on Hamas. The position of the security establishment will be clear: The full return of the residents of the northern Gaza Strip will only take place after the return of all the hostages,” Gallant continued.

“The statement that I have repeated from day one, according to which we have no moral right to stop the fighting as long as we have a single hostage in Gaza, has not changed and will not change,” he added. 

“Even if we reach a framework that requires a temporary pause in the fighting, we will return to fighting to eliminate the Hamas organization and to return all the hostages.”

An Israeli delegation agreed to a framework for a hostage release deal during talks with Hamas in Paris on Friday and then went on to Qatar on Monday for the second round of separate talks with mediators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt. 

The details of the proposed deal include the release of at least 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for a six-week truce and the release of hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists by Israel.

Israel’s stated goal is to completely dismantle the Hamas terror group and says it will only agree to a temporary pause in the fighting to secure the release of hostages. 

Hamas says it will not free the hostages without an agreement that leads to a permanent end to the war.

"We're totally committed to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth," Israel's economy and industry minister, Nir Barkat, told Reuters at a conference in the United Arab Emirates, where Israel's growing acceptance has provoked angry reactions from Palestinian militants.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that any ceasefire agreement would require "securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding".

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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