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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Blinken urges ceasefire as Israeli offensive continues amid regional tensions

WorldBlinken urges ceasefire as Israeli offensive continues amid regional tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to meet with Israeli leaders on Tuesday to address the Gaza conflict and prevent it from escalating into a regional crisis.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to meet with Israeli leaders on Tuesday to address the Gaza conflict and prevent it from escalating into a regional crisis. This as the Israeli military asserted its commitment to continuing the fight against Hamas throughout the year.

Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday, briefing Israeli officials on his discussions with Arab leaders regarding the war triggered by Hamas militants’ October 7 attack, resulting in approximately 1,200 casualties.

He reiterated the necessity for Israel to enhance efforts in safeguarding civilians and ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches those in need. The Israeli offensive has led to the death of over 23,000 Palestinians, extensive damage to the Gaza Strip, and the displacement of most of its 2.3 million population, resulting in a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Indications of the conflict’s potential expansion emerged as Israel reportedly killed a top commander of Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, in south Lebanon. Reports also mentioned Israel’s unprecedented strikes in Syria, targeting Iran’s weapons lifeline to its regional proxies.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant expressed determination to end Hamas’ rule and deter Iran-backed adversaries. However, Israel faced mounting pressure from the United States and Arab leaders to reduce the assault.

U.S. President Joe Biden, responding to protesters urging a ceasefire, said he had been “quietly” working to encourage Israel to ease its attacks and “significantly get out of Gaza”. Israeli officials asserted a transition to more targeted warfare, yet fighting persisted.

Israeli forces continued operations in various areas, with Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stating that “the fighting will continue through 2024.” Blinken insisted that displaced Palestinian civilians must be allowed to return to their homes in Gaza.

Israeli leaders reportedly conveyed to Blinken that the return of Palestinians from northern Gaza depended on Hamas releasing more Israeli hostages seized on October 7. Israel claimed over 100 hostages remained in Hamas’ custody.

Ground clashes, bombings, and missile firings persisted on Monday, with Hamas responding to what it termed “Zionist massacres against civilians.”

Blinken, after talks in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, aimed to find a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, emphasizing Arab support for normalizing relations with Israel contingent on resolving the Gaza situation and establishing a practical pathway to a Palestinian state.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stressed the need to halt hostilities and pursue a path to peace, while Jordan’s King Abdullah condemned indiscriminate aggression, highlighting the toll on Gaza’s children and the creation of a generation of orphans.

The Israeli military reported ongoing actions, including bombing an arms cache, uncovering a tunnel shaft, and killing militant fighters. Many Gaza residents faced displacement, with makeshift shelters and tented camps offering limited refuge.

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