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Israel, Hamas Return to Hostage Negotiations as Gallant Warns Hezbollah to Back Off

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel and Hamas head back to the negotiating table for the release of hostages, including some Americans. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists on maintaining principles already agreed to by Israel.

Netanyahu believes the plan approved by Israel and supported by President Joe Biden allows the return of hostages without jeopardizing the goals of the war.

His non-negotiable principles include:

 – Israel's ability to resume the fighting

 – Ending weapons smuggling from Egypt to Hamas

 – Maximizing the number of living hostages released from Hamas

In Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces took some foreign journalists inside Rafah, the scene of two months of fighting.   

IDF Chief Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari explained, "Hamas built everything in a civilian neighborhood among houses, among mosques, among the population, in order to create its terror ecosystem. This is part of the Rafah Brigade military framework."

In the North, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant toured the border with Lebanon. He said what happens in Gaza won't affect the fight against Hezbollah. 

"Even if we reach an agreement regarding the hostages deal, and I very much hope that we will be able to reach one in the south, it does not affect what is happening here," Gallant stated.

He also warned that Israel won't allow the terror group to continually attack northern Israel and prevent some 80 thousand citizens from returning to their homes.

"If they come to attack us, or if they try to harm us, or if they don't allow us to return our citizens safely to their homes, we will act," Gallant said.

Hezbollah launched more attacks in the north this weekend. Sunday, it conducted its deepest attack into Israel so far, with some 20 rockets near the Sea of Galilee. While several were intercepted, one seriously wounded a civilian.

Also this weekend, Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran, announced a so-called moderate, Masoud Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon and longtime legislator, defeated a hard-liner to become Iran's next president. 

Iranian-born analyst Ellie Cohanim wrote on X, "Calling anyone in the regime a 'moderate' means they will only 'moderately' torture & murder the opposition." 

Cohanim also noted the ultimate power in Iran lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

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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