US secretary of state makes surprise visit to West Bank, Israel pounds Gaza
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- US top diplomat Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
- Blinken said the Palestinian Authority should play a central role in the future of the Gaza strip.
- Israel continued a campaign of air strikes that Gaza health officials say has killed nearly 9500 Palestinians.
- The Palestinian Red Crescent said there was also intense bombardment in the vicinity of the Al-Quds Hospital.
- The aid currently entering Gaza is “nowhere near” enough to meet people’s needs, World Food Programme head said.
Ramallah: US top diplomat Antony Blinken, on a surprise visit to the West Bank, said the Palestinian Authority should play a central role in the future of the Gaza strip, a US official said after a visit to the occupied West Bank on Sunday, as Blinken tours the region amid spiralling tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas.
Blinken passed through Israeli checkpoints to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on his second visit to the region since Palestinian Hamas fighters launched a surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at the Muqata in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.Credit: AP
The Hamas attack killed 1400 people and taking more than 240 others hostage.
As Israel continued a campaign of air strikes that Gaza health officials say has killed nearly 9500 Palestinians, Secretary of State Blinken rebuffed calls for a ceasefire from Arab officials on Saturday after appealing, unsuccessfully, to Israel for more limited pauses to the fighting a day earlier.
As well as seeking to ensure the conflict does not spread in the region, Blinken is trying to kickstart discussions on how Gaza could be governed after the complete destruction of Hamas that Israel says is its aim.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s motorcade drive to the airport to depart the city after meetings, amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Amman, Jordan.Credit: AP
Blinken told Abbas that Washington believes the PA “should play a central role in what comes next in Gaza,” said a senior State Department official who briefed reporters travelling with Blinken.
Abbas told Blinken that Gaza is “an integral part” of the state Palestinians want, according to an account of the meeting from the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, which suggested any PA role in governing Gaza would have to be part of a wider settlement of the decades-old conflict.
“We will fully assume our responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” Abbas was quoted by WAFA as saying.
Israel continued to strike the Gaza Strip by air, sea, and ground overnight.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said there was also intense bombardment, artillery explosions and air strikes in the vicinity of the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza’s Tal Al-Hawa area.
Explosions seen over Gaza skyline from southern Israel.Credit: AP
The UN humanitarian office estimates that nearly 1.5 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are internally displaced.
The aid currently entering Gaza is “nowhere near” enough to meet people’s needs, World Food Programme head Cindy McCain said after visiting the Rafah border crossing.
“People are living in a horrific nightmare,” McCain said. “Food and water are running out. A steady flow of aid is needed to meet the desperate needs now.”
Worsening violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has fuelled concerns it could become a third front in a wider war, in addition to Israel’s northern border, where clashes with Lebanese Hezbollah forces have mounted.
An Israeli strike on a car in southern Lebanon killed three people on Sunday, security sources in Lebanon said.
Supporters of an Islamist group marched to the US Embassy in Ankara on Sunday, hours ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected arrival in the Turkish capital.
Several hundred protestors chanted “God is Great” and held their index fingers skywards as they approached the compound in the city’s Cukurambar neighbourhood.
Riot police lined up in front of the US complex as the crowd, many carrying black and white flags with Arabic script, called for Turkish soldiers to be sent to Gaza.
The demonstration was the latest in Turkey to highlight the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Israel’s operations in Gaza.
“We, as Muslims, gathered to state that we will speak out against this genocide and that we will not accept it, that our armies and our nation are against Israel and on the side of the people of Gaza,” protester Ebru Petek told The Associated Press.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ramon Air Force base in southern Israel on Sunday and reiterated his opposition to a cease-fire in Gaza.
Addressing pilots, Netanyahu said, “There will be no cease-fire without the return of our hostages.”
“We say this to both our enemies and our friends. We will continue until we beat them,” he added.
More coverage of the Hamas-Israel conflict
- Cascading violence: Tremors from the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response have reached far beyond the border. But what would all-out war in the Middle East look like?
- The human cost: Hamas’ massacre in Israel has traumatised – and hardened – survivors. And in Gaza, neighbourhoods have become ghost cities.
- “Hamas metro”: Inside the labyrinthine network of underground tunnels, which the Palestinian militant group has commanded beneath war-ravaged Gaza for 16 years. The covert corridors have long provided essential channels for the movement of weapons and armed combatants.
- What is Hezbollah?: As fears of the conflict expanding beyond Israel and Hamas steadily rise, all eyes are on the militant group and political party that controls southern Lebanon and has been designated internationally as a terrorist group. How did it form and what does Iran have to do with it?
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