Blinken returns to Israel as Gaza war worsens
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday arrived in Tel Aviv to press for the protection of the civilians in Gaza as the war between Israel and the Hamas group intensified and entered its 28th day. The top US diplomat, who is visiting the region for the second time in less than a month, held separate meetings with Israel President Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged them to protect civilians who are caught in the crossfire and to “bring assistance to those who so desperately need it”.
“When I see a Palestinian child - a boy, a girl - pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, that hits me in the gut as much as seeing a child in Israel or anywhere else…So this is something that we have an obligation to respond to, and we will," he said.
Blinken also reiterated that Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself as it continues to pummel the Gaza Strip with an air and ground assault. “Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself... to make sure that this October 7 never happens again,” he told journalists in Tel Aviv.
The US has been trying to strike a balance between its full support and ramped-up military aid to Israel for its campaign in Gaza, and pushing for the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Washington has dismissed calls from Arab and several other nations for a full ceasefire in the war but wants more temporary and local pauses in fighting to allow aid to get into Gaza, reported AFP.
Israel has been launching massive retaliatory assaults against Gaza's Hamas rulers after its fighters carried out an attack on October 7 in which at least 1,400 people were killed. According to the health ministry in Gaza, at least 9,227 Palestinians including 3,826 children have been killed in the Israeli strikes so far.
(With inputs from agencies)