Blinken tells Netanyahu 'imperative' to protect Gaza civilians
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv early Thursday for talks with Israeli leaders on the truce with Hamas and the provision of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
It is Blinken's third visit to the Middle East since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, sparked by the October 7 attack on Israel by the militant group which left more than 1,200 dead.
Blinken said that a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip was "producing results" and should continue.
"We have seen over the last week the very positive development of hostages coming home, being reunited with their families," he said at a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.
"It's also enabled an increase in humanitarian assistance to go to innocent civilians in Gaza who need it desperately. So this process is producing results. It's important, and we hope that it can continue."
In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken emphasized the need to protect civilians in southern Gaza, where many have fled, the State Department said.
Blinken "stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there", State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement, adding he "urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm".