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Blinken, calls on Israel to guarantee the safety of Palestinian civilians

Blinken, calls on Israel to guarantee the safety of Palestinian civilians

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israel on Thursday that it must ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza and meet their humanitarian needs before resuming military operations, his spokesman said.

Secretary Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet in Jerusalem and then went to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

It is his third visit to the Middle East since the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Mr Blinken said a seven-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas had produced results and the United States hoped it would continue.

At the meetings in Jerusalem, Mr. Blinken reaffirmed US support for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist violence in accordance with international humanitarian law, spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Mr. Blinken urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties, spokesman Miller said.

"The secretary stressed the necessity of accountability for humanitarian and civil protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operation there," Mr. Miller said.

Washington has urged Israel to narrow the fighting zone and make clear where the safe zones are for Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza to prevent a repeat of the mass death toll from Israeli attacks in northern Gaza. , US officials said Wednesday.

In a statement after the meeting, Mr Netanyahu's office said the prime minister reaffirmed Israel's commitment to eliminating Hamas, which controls Gaza.

The top US diplomat said Washington is focused on helping to secure the freedom of other hostages held in Gaza.

"We have seen over the last week a very positive development with hostages returning home and reuniting them with their families. This should continue today. This has also enabled an increase in humanitarian aid to innocent civilians in Gaza who need extraordinary for him", he said earlier in a meeting in Tel Aviv with Israeli President Isaac Herzog./VOA 

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