Blinken mediates post-war planning in Gaza; Attacks between Israel and Hezbollah have intensified

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel, where he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on January 9, in a bid to prevent the ongoing war between Israeli forces and the Hamas group from turning into a regional conflict. However, tensions are spreading along the border: in the past few hours an Israeli strike killed three Hezbollah members in Lebanon and the Shia group responded with attacks against a military barracks. Israel warned that its war against Hamas in the Palestinian territory would last for months, where the death toll rose to 23,210 on Tuesday.

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The United States has strengthened its diplomatic stance against the war in Gaza, while Israel has hardened its military offensive.

This Tuesday, January 9, the Israeli army indicated that it had expanded its ground operation to Khan Yunis and Rafah, the largest cities in the south of the Palestinian territory full of internally displaced people. Troops indicated they killed 40 Hamas members in the past few hours in an “extended ground operation that also included airstrikes”.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said, “Dozens of terrorists were killed (…) large quantities of weapons and underground terrorist tunnels were located,” although this information has not been independently confirmed.

Due to continuous attacks in Gaza area, thousands of civilians are unable to find a place to take shelter. The enclave’s health ministry said on Tuesday that 126 people had lost their lives and 241 were injured in the last 24 hours alone, taking the total death toll since October 7 to 23,210.

FILE - A Palestinian woman reacts to the bodies of those killed after Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip.
FILE – A Palestinian woman reacts to the bodies of those killed after Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip. © AFP/Kathib Said

Total, 59,167 Palestinians have been injured since the conflict escalated. Among the enormous difficulties in obtaining medical care, as a large proportion of hospitals are out of operation following the attack, as well as due to shortages of water, energy and medical supplies.

Amidst this panorama, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel, and tried to mediate with his ally and other leaders of neighboring regions to prevent the ongoing war in the region from becoming a major conflict.

Blinken is mediating with Israel regarding the war in Gaza

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken brokered talks with Washington’s great ally in the Middle East, in his fourth visit since the conflict escalated three months ago. The diplomat met in Israel this Tuesday with President Isaac Herzog and later with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; a journey in which Its aim is to prevent a possible expansion of the conflict beyond the borders of the Palestinian enclave and to put forward a plan for Gaza after the ongoing hostilities end.

Blinken – who arrived in Tel Aviv after visiting Greece, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan – said he received commitments from the four Arab countries and Ankara to help rebuild the Gaza region after the war . Something that those countries refused to promise without stopping the attacks on the besieged coastal strip.

“At virtually every stop I found there was a willingness by all countries involved to do important work to help stabilize and regenerate Gaza. As he departed Saudi Arabia for Israel on the evening of Monday, January 8, Blinken announced, “I’ve heard everywhere and one of the things we’re going to be working on together is the country in particular. are willing to.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz (second-right) and other senior officials of Benjamin Netanyahu's government in Tel Aviv on January 9, 2024.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz (second-right) and other senior officials of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Tel Aviv on January 9, 2024. © AFP/Evelyn Hockstein

The top representative of US diplomacy has already assured that he will put “extremely urgent” pressure on Netanyahu’s government to do more to protect Gaza’s citizens and to deliver humanitarian aid to them.

For his part, President Joe Biden said on the eve of Blinken’s meetings in Israel that his government is pressuring Israel to withdraw some of its forces.

But the scope of those interventions is still unclear. Just two weeks ago, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant announced that the war in Gaza would last “several more months” and that troops on the ground were intensifying the siege, leaving the population of 2.4 million people devastated and in critical condition. . Desolation, hunger and unsanitary conditions.

Washington’s efforts to prevent the expansion of the war in Gaza face major challenges amid shelling on Israel’s border with Lebanon and Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

Israel kills three Hezbollah members in Lebanon; Fears of regional conflict increase

Three fighters from Hezbollah, the Shiite group that supports Hamas from Lebanon, were killed in an Israeli attack this Tuesday, when the vehicle in which they were traveling was hit in the town of Ghandouriyeh, in the south of the Lebanese territory.

Israeli troops described their warplanes as attacking “terrorist infrastructure” in southern Lebanon.

Shortly thereafter, a response came from the other side of the border. The Iran-backed Shia movement launched an explosive drone attack on an Israeli army base in Safed, a first for such a situation.

Hezbollah claimed the attack was in response to the killing of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut last week and the killing of a Hezbollah commander on Monday.

Although the Israeli military spokesperson confirmed the attacks on their positions, he assured that no damage or casualties were reported.

Fears of an escalating conflict have increased since hostilities in Gaza flared up due to Hamas’ attack against Israel on October 7. Israel, backed by the United States, confronts armed groups backed by Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

With Reuters, AFP and AP

(TagstoTranslate)Middle East(T)Israel(T)Hamas(T)Gaza(T)Gaza Strip(T)Antony Blinken(T)Lebanon(T)Hezbollah(T)Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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