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Israel Confirms 31 Hostages Have Died; IDF Uncovers Ties Between Hamas Leader and Iran

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JERUSALEM, Israel – As Israeli soldiers uncover evidence in Gaza's buildings and tunnels, new information on the fate of the hostages held by Hamas shook Israelis Tuesday. The news looks grim for those hostages still alive.    

Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Daniel Hagari said the military has notified 31 hostage families that their loved ones are no longer alive. 

The New York Times also reported that Israeli intelligence is assessing unconfirmed information that at least another 20 hostages may also have been killed.

The report said some of the dead were killed on October 7th, some died of injuries while in captivity, and others were killed by Hamas inside Gaza. 

Alongside the shocking news comes word of potential progress in hostage negotiations.

Qatar's prime minister said Hamas is positive about the latest proposed deal, which would include a pause in the fighting and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said a deal is achievable, but there's a lot of work to be done.

President Joe Biden noted, "There's been a response from the opposition from Hamas, but it seems to be a little over the top. We're not sure where it is."

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In Paris Wednesday, families of French Israeli hostages appealed for their release. 

Ayla Yahalomi-Luzon, sister of French-Israeli hostage Ohad Yahalomi, stated, "We don't need people to hope for us. I have hope. We need help. To get citizen(s) free from the captivity of Hamas. Ohad is a French citizen and I ask from France to do all the effort to release him and everyone."

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz reaffirmed Wednesday the twin goals of the war.

He said, “The return of the kidnapped is an integral part of the victory and does not replace our duty to remove the threat of Hamas. If we reach an outline (deal to release hostages), it will be a step on the way to victory.”

Gantz also announced he plans to move from Tel Aviv to a small community next to the Gaza border. The move is a show of support for the thousands of Israelis who left their homes after the October massacres.

The IDF also announced it has found evidence in tunnels under Khan Younis linking Gaza Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to Iran.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari revealed, "We are publishing some of the intelligence information found by our forces, indicating a direct 'connection' from Iran to Hamas, and more so, to Yahya Sinwar. This is another example of how Iran exports terror across the Middle East. The terror that Iran exports and produces is a global problem."

The military discovered large amounts of cash, documents showing the transfer of funds from Iran to Hamas, and envelopes of cash transferred directly to Yahya Sinwar.

In all, they seized 20 million shekels ($6 million) in cash and documentation that Iran transferred more than $150 million to Hamas and Sinwar in the last decade.

In another show of support for Israelis, newly-elected Argentinian President Javier Milei arrived in Israel, prayed at the Western Wall, and announced his plans to move his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Argentina is one of 25 countries with Hamas-held hostages.

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CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world. Chris first began reporting on the Middle East in the mid-1990s. He repeatedly traveled there to report on the religious and political issues facing Israel and the surrounding Arab states. One of his more significant reports focused on the emigration of persecuted Christians