Tuesday, March 5

Israel-Hamas war updates: Netanyahu-Blinken meeting news and latest news

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Friday urged Israeli leaders to take steps to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza and allow more humanitarian aid to enter the besieged territory, amid a war that has killed thousands of people and set the Middle East on fire.

But shortly after his meeting with Mr. Blinken, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to refute the Biden administration’s call for a series of “humanitarian pauses” to allow more deliveries of food, water, medicine and other essential supplies and facilitate release. hostels owned by Hamas. Mr Netanyahu said any ceasefire would depend on the release of Israeli hostages, including many children, kidnapped in a deadly October 7 attack.

“I made it clear that we were continuing with force and that Israel refused a temporary ceasefire that would not include the release of our hostages” held by Hamas, he said. He also held firm to Israel’s refusal to let fuel into Gaza, even as Israel allows limited shipments of other vital supplies.

Mr. Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv that the United States stood in “solidarity” with Israel, but said that in meetings with Mr. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders he had emphasized that “the way Israel leads his campaign to defeat Hamas is important.” , the militant group that controls Gaza. The October 7 attack, orchestrated by Hamas, killed more than 1,400 people and took more than 200 hostages, according to the Israeli government.

“We have provided Israel with advice that only the world’s best friends can offer on how to minimize civilian deaths while achieving its goals of finding and eliminating Hamas terrorists,” Blinken said. He said they discussed “concrete measures” to protect civilians, as well as “tangible measures” to allow more aid into Gaza, but did not elaborate on either topic.

As President Biden continues to declare his unambiguous support for Israel, saying the country has the right to defend itself, concerns are growing within his administration over the growing number of Palestinian deaths – more than 9,200, according to the ministry of Health in Gaza controlled by Hamas – which is getting worse. the humanitarian conditions and physical destruction caused by the Israeli bombing campaign and week-long ground invasion.

As Israeli ground forces march into Gaza’s largest city and their airstrikes kill and injure more Palestinians every day, anger is growing in the region even as Mr. Blinken tries to prevent adversaries from ‘Israel to expand the war. Fighting between Israeli troops and the armed group Hezbollah has intensified along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday delivered a fiery speech denouncing both Israel and the States. -United.

After meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Mr. Blinken said: “It is very important, when it comes to protecting civilians caught in the crossfire of Hamas, that everything is done to protect them and provide them with relief. ‘help. to those who desperately need it.

But he reiterated that the United States remains consistently behind Israel. He told reporters that he had been shown additional images and videos collected by the Israeli government documenting the massacre of civilians on October 7. “It’s almost beyond human capacity to process it, to digest it,” Mr. Blinken said.

Pauses in fighting would allow humanitarian aid to be distributed, facilitate hostage negotiations and allow more people to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the administration said. The first hundreds of dual nationals, foreigners and staff from international organizations were allowed to leave this week.

More than a million Gazans have been displaced by the war and the territory, blockaded by Israel, is dangerously short of food, fuel, water and medicine. After a complete halt to foreign aid during the first two weeks of the war, dozens of trucks carrying aid now arrive daily in Gaza.

“This is significant progress in a matter of weeks, but it is also insufficient,” Blinken said, echoing the view of the United Nations and humanitarian groups.

Mr. Blinken left Israel for talks in Amman, Jordan, with Jordanian leaders and other regional partners to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas and prevent the war from expanding.

Michael D. Shearing, Cassandra Vinograd And Aaron Boxerman reports contributed.