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Blinken continues Middle East tour to defend Gaza ceasefire plan

Photo: Leo Correa Associated Press U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with families and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip during a protest in Tel Aviv calling for their return, June 11, 2024.

Shaun Tandon – Agence France-Presse in Tel Aviv

Published at 6:54 a.m.

  • Middle East

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued his Middle East tour on Tuesday aimed at defending a ceasefire plan in the Gaza Strip, where four Israeli soldiers were killed in fights.

In Israel, the head of American diplomacy stressed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “reaffirmed his commitment” to a ceasefire, after more than eight months of war between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian territory.

M. Blinken also described as an “encouraging sign” the reaction of the Palestinian Islamist movement after the adoption, on Monday, by the UN Security Council, of an American resolution supporting the plan announced on May 31 by American President Joe Biden. Biden.

“Everyone said yes except Hamas,” he said, adding that if the movement did not accept this proposal, a failure would be “clearly” his responsibility.

“We are waiting for a response from Hamas,” Mr. Blinken insisted.

The Secretary of State arrived in Jordan early this afternoon for an international conference to raise funds for humanitarian aid in the Palestinian territory besieged by Israel, where the UN is concerned about the risk of famine.

New Israeli strikes targeted the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, including the center where hospital sources reported Palestinians killed.

The army announced the deaths of four soldiers, three conscripts aged 19 and 20 and a 24-year-old active-duty commander, killed in fighting the previous day in the south.

In total, 298 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip on October 27.

Read also

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No official response

During his eighth regional tour since the start of the war on October 7, M Blinken met Tuesday in Tel Aviv with Benny Gantz, a resigning member of the Israeli war cabinet, then with the leader of the opposition, Yaïr Lapid.

Monday, The UN Security Council adopted by 14 votes and one abstention, that of Russia, the draft American resolution supporting the plan to establish in stages a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

This plan provides, in a first phase, for a six-week ceasefire accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas of Gaza, the release of certain hostages and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

But neither side has responded officially to this proposal.

Hamas has said it welcomes a certain number of of elements contained in the resolution. But after the plan was announced, the movement reiterated its demands for a definitive ceasefire and a total withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the Gaza Strip.

Israel, for its part, refuses to end the war until Hamas, in power since 2007 in the territory and which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union, is not not eliminated.

The road map was presented by Joe Biden as emanating from Israel, but until now, the country has not formally accepted it.

“Need a deal”

Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a political setback with the resignation on Sunday from the war cabinet of centrist Benny Gantz.

Tuesday, his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, voted against the government on a controversial bill aimed at providing a limited framework for the conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews without forcing them into military service like the rest of the country.

The Prime Minister, according to part of the Israeli press, is seeking, despite these tensions, to take advantage of a special forces operation which made it possible to free four hostages on Saturday in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas Ministry of Health claims that 274 Palestinians were killed in this operation.

The toll could not be independently verified, but a spokesman for the UN Human Rights Office said Tuesday it was “close to 100 per cent accurate.”

The UN Human Rights Office said it was both “deeply shocked” by the impact of the operation on civilians and “deeply distressed” that Palestinian groups were continuing to hold hostages.

“All of these actions, by both sides, could amount to war crimes,” spokesman Jeremy Laurence said in Geneva.

The mother of Almog Meir Jan, one of the freed hostages, called on the government on Monday to reach an agreement to free the other hostages. “The remaining hostages need an agreement to return home safely,” Orit Meir said.

“Destruction everywhere”

The war was sparked on October 7 by an unprecedented Hamas attack in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data. .

Of 251 people kidnapped, 116 are still held hostage in Gaza, of whom 41 are dead, according to the Israeli army.

In response, the Israeli army launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip, which left at least 37,124 people dead, mostly civilians, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Gaza-led government. by Hamas.

On May 7, the army launched a ground offensive on the southern city of Rafah, which pushed a million Palestinians to flee and led to the closure of the border post with Egypt, crucial for the entry of humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian organizations denounce the insufficiency of aid, controlled by Israel upon entry into the Gaza Strip, and the virtual impossibility of delivering it to the populations.

“This war has destroyed our lives. There is no food, no drink, it is siege and destruction everywhere,” Soad Al-Qanou, a woman trying to save her child, Amjad, who was emaciated by malnutrition, told AFP , in the ruined Jabalia camp in northern Gaza.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116