Blinken visits the Middle East to consolidate the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Gaza
Gaza – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel on Tuesday and began a trip across the Middle East to consolidate the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. At least 253 Palestinians, including nearly 70 children, and 14 people in Israel were killed during the 11-day conflict, which was halted early Friday by a weak ceasefire agreement.
Blinken, the senior US official who has visited the region since President Joe Biden took office, told journalists after meeting Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu that Mr Biden sent him to pledge US commitment to Israel’s security Strengthen the region and work for greater peace and stability in India, and to address the urgent humanitarian needs and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip.
An estimated 77,000by the Israeli air strikes during the conflict, which also hit Gaza’s infrastructure badly, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without fresh running water.
After reaffirming the government’s firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against attack – after Hamas shot more than 4,000 in the country – Blinken stressed that the US wanted to extend the ceasefire, “with the recognition that the two losing sides were profound. “
Blinken said the US had already committed to helping Israel clean up its defenses, including replenishing its partially US-funded Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which prevented the vast majority of Palestinian missiles from hitting the ground.
The Foreign Minister said the Biden government believes that all sides must use “the space created by the current ceasefire” to address the underlying issues “which it should start” in order to prevent the decades-long conflict from flaring up again “Combating humanitarian problems in Gaza” and contributing to the reconstruction of the decimated Palestinian enclave.
Blinken said he would announce more US aid to Palestinians later Tuesday, but noted that American aid would be provided in a way that “would ensure Hamas does not benefit”.
Blinken was due to meet separately with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later on Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority controls the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but not Gaza, which is run by the militant group Hamas. The United States regards Hamas as a terrorist organization and does not deal with it directly.
Netanyahu said he thanked Blinken for continued support from the United States and warned: “If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful.”
The recent conflictin the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators. There was great tension over the threatened eviction of more than a dozen Palestinian families from their homes by Jewish settlers as well as Israel’s police tactics around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest places in Islam, during Ramadan.
Hamas has warned that the ceasefire will fall and violence will resume if the evictions of Sheikh Jarrah take place or if Israel resumes security forces in al-Aqsa.
The dispute over the evictions in East Jerusalem has been going on for years, but was interrupted shortly before the conflict broke out. It is scheduled to resume in the coming weeks.
Since the beginning of the ceasefire, there have been isolated clashes between the Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in front of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian in East Jerusalem on Monday before the attacker was killed by police. The ceasefire, however, was continued on Tuesday when Blinken visited the region.
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