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Blinken in Tel Aviv to discuss the future of Gaza

France Media Agency The Israeli army announced strikes in Khan Younes, the main city in the south of the besieged territory and the new epicenter of the fighting.

Michaël Blum – Agence France-Presse and Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse respectively in Jerusalem and Gaza

January 8, 2024

  • Middle East

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday evening. Discussions, which promise to be difficult, are expected with the Israeli authorities to obtain a de-escalation of the conflict with the “absolute imperative” of sparing Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Arriving from Saudi Arabia, Mr. Blinken also intends to put pressure on the government of Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the future of the Gaza Strip, where the war has entered its fourth month, with what he heard in various Arab capitals during his tour.

Shortly before his arrival, American President Joe Biden, challenged by demonstrators asking him for a cease-fire in Gaza, said he was working “discreetly” so that Israel “clearly reduced” its presence in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli strikes, which continue without respite in the enclave, have left 249 dead in the last 24 hours, according to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, in power since 2007 in Gaza.

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Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, a movement classified as terrorist by the United States and the European Union, after its unprecedented attack on its territory on October 7, which killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to a count of the 'AFP based on the Israeli assessment.

Approximately 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, including around 100 released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a truce in late November. In total, 132 are still held hostage by different Palestinian armed groups. On Monday, Islamic Jihad released a video of a living Israeli hostage.

Israeli strikes left 23,084 dead in Gaza, mostly women and minors, according to a latest Hamas report on Monday.

In Saudi Arabia, Blinken said he discussed the normalization of relations between Israel and the kingdom, whose negotiations were suspended by Riyadh a week after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7.< /p>

He also added that Washington would work with countries in the region for the reconstruction and stabilization of Gaza.

Touring the region for the fourth time since the start of the war, Mr. Blinken also hopes to prevent a rise in tension in the region, particularly on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

“Desperate Needs”

On Monday, a Hezbollah military official was killed about ten kilometers from the border with Israel. He “played a leading role in directing operations” in southern Lebanon, the scene of almost daily clashes between the pro-Iranian Lebanese movement and the Israeli army, according to a Lebanese security source.

According to Hezbollah, this is “Commander Wissam Hassan Tawil”, the highest military official of this formation killed since it opened a front with Israel to support Palestinian Hamas.

In addition, in a rare statement on its operations in Syria, the Israeli army announced on Monday that it had killed Hassan Akasha, a “central figure” of Hamas in Syria.

In Gaza, bombings have razed entire neighborhoods, displaced 85% of the population and caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis according to the UN.

In recent hours, the Israeli army said it had killed “ten terrorists preparing to fire rockets at Israel” in Khan Younes, the main town in southern Gaza and the new epicenter of the fighting. Other strikes targeted Rafah, at the southern tip of Gaza, according to AFPTV.

“We were told that Rafah was safe, but where is the security, there is no safe place, we don’t know what to do,” laments a witness, Mohammad Hejazy.

On Sunday, two journalists working for Al Jazeera were killed there on Sunday by an Israeli strike on their vehicle, according to the Qatari channel. On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was “very concerned about the high death toll of journalists in Gaza, calling for “the killings of all journalists to be investigated”. “thorough investigation.”

The Israeli army took responsibility for the shooting, telling AFP that it had “hit a terrorist who was piloting a flying device posing a threat to troops”, and that it was “aware of reports that, during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle were also hit.”

High voltage border

In the Gaza Strip, international organizations continue to warn of the ongoing health disaster, with humanitarian aid arriving in trickles, despite a UN Security Council resolution .

Rik Peeperkorn, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Palestinian Territories, pleaded with AFP on Monday for a “humanitarian ceasefire, the only way to meet the needs desperate” Gazans.

The WHO announced on X the cancellation for the 4th time since the end of December of a delivery of urgent medical supplies to northern Gaza due to lack of security guarantees.

The Israeli human rights NGO B'Tselem, for its part, accused Israel of “starving Gaza”, calling for an opening of the floodgates of food aid, in a new report Monday.

The conflict has also increased violence to a level not seen in nearly twenty years in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

The Palestinian Health Ministry announced Monday that three men were killed in Tulkarem by Israeli fire. Israeli police, for their part, indicated that three men were killed and two others injured during an operation aimed at arresting a “wanted terrorist” near this town.

Clashes in this area intensified after the assassination attributed to Israel, Tuesday in Beirut, of Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas number two.

Since the start of the war, cross-border hostilities have left more than 180 dead in Lebanon, including more than 135 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP count. On the Israeli side, nine soldiers and five civilians were killed, according to the authorities.

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