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Blinken called on Israel not to harm civilian population in Gaza Strip

Blinken called on Israel not to harm civilian population in Gaza Strip Photo: The U.S. urges Israel to reduce hostilities to avoid harming residents of the Gaza Strip (Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel must cease causing additional harm to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, according to the U.S. State Department.

Secretary Blinken affirmed the U.S. support for Israel's right to prevent a recurrence of the terrorist attacks on October 7, emphasizing the importance of avoiding further harm to the civilian population and protecting civil infrastructure in Gaza.

During a press conference on Tuesday, January 9, Blinken reported "excessive" casualties among Gaza residents, particularly children.

He also called on Israel to support UN efforts for the reconstruction of the region and the new UN humanitarian coordinator in Gaza, Sigrid Kaag: "She has America’s full support; she must have Israel’s as well," as reported by The Times of Israel.

Blinken and Netanyahu discussed "ongoing efforts to release all remaining hostages and the importance of increasing the levels of humanitarian aid reaching the civilian population in Gaza."

Israel to intensify military operations

Meanwhile, during a meeting with Blinken, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant stated that Israel would strengthen its operations in the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza until Hamas leaders are found and Israeli hostages are released.

The head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense informed Blinken about the developments in the war and highlighted "changes in the tactics of military operations" in northern Gaza, where the intensity of combat operations decreased after gaining operational control over the territory.

The Defense Minister also asked Blinken to increase pressure on Iran to prevent escalation in other theaters of military action.

According to him, Israel's top priority now is to return residents to the northern part of the country, where clashes with Hezbollah have intensified, raising concerns of a broader outbreak of hostilities.

At the same time, ultra-right Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, openly opposed U.S. pressure, addressing Blinken in a tweet in English, stating, "It’s not the time to speak softly with Hamas, it’s time to use that big stick."

Visit of the U.S. Secretary of State to the Middle East

On January 4, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on a seven-day visit to the Middle East for talks with leaders of the region. During the trip, he will visit Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, as well as Turkey and Greece.

This marks the fourth visit by the head of American diplomacy since October 7, 2023, the beginning of the conflict between Israel and the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.

During his visit to Qatar on January 7, Blinken stated that everything possible should be done to prevent the expansion of the military conflict in the Gaza Strip to the entire Middle East region.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces will soon enter a new stage of the operation to eliminate Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, January 8, the Israeli army reported the elimination of a Hamas representative in Syria responsible for rocket attacks on northern areas of Israel.