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Anthony Blinken returns to Israel for meet Herzog and Netanyahu | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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The head of American diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, met Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.

Agence France-Presse

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, is making a new visit to Israel to try to prevent the conflict from escalating expands to the region, as the Israeli army continues its bombardments on the Gaza Strip.

An AFP correspondent reported intense bombardments overnight in Khan Younes and Rafah, the major cities in the south of the besieged Palestinian territory, where thousands of people have sought refuge since the start of the war on October 7 .

For its part, the Israeli military announced that its forces had killed around 40 militants in the past 24 hours in expanded ground operations including airstrikes in Khan Yunis, and that its troops had seized weapons.

The war between Israel and Hamas was sparked by a bloody October 7 Hamas attack on Israeli soil that killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on the Israeli toll.

A total of 185 soldiers have been killed since the start of the war, including nine on Monday, according to a new report published Tuesday.

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An Israeli soldier wears a patch on the back of his jacket that shows Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as a target.

Middle East, the eternal conflict

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The strikes by the Israeli army, which has vowed to destroy Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, have left more than 23,210 dead, mostly women and minors. , according to a latest assessment Tuesday from Hamas.

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In a speech delivered Tuesday in Doha, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Muslim countries to support the movement in its war against Israel in the Gaza Strip by supplying it with weapons.

Fears of a regional escalation of conflict between Israel and its other enemies, an informal alliance of Iran-backed armed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, have continued. grow.

Israeli strikes and exchanges of fire with the Islamist movement Hezbollah supported by Iran are almost daily. On Monday, Hezbollah announced the death of Wissam Hassan Tawil, one of its commanders, in an Israeli strike.

In retaliation, Hezbollah announced on Tuesday that it had targeted an Israeli army command center in the north of the country using several suicide drones. The latter confirmed that an enemy aircraft had fallen on its base, without causing any injuries or damage.

Two other central figures of the Hamas have been killed in strikes in recent days: one, Hassan Akasha, in Syria on Monday, and the other, Saleh al-Arouri, killed in early January in Lebanon.

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Protesters demanding the release of hostages kidnapped in the October 7 attack gathered outside Tel Aviv's Kempinski Hotel, where Blinken was meeting with President Isaac Herzog.

In this context, the American Secretary of State, who is making his fourth tour in the Middle East since the start of the war, met Tuesday in Israel with the Prime Minister , Benjamin Netanyahu, and was to meet other leaders.

In the morning, a small group of protesters demanding the release of hostages kidnapped in the October 7 attack gathered outside the Kempinski Hotel in Tel Aviv, where Mr. Blinken was meeting with the President Isaac Herzog, noted AFP. Bring them back now!, they chanted.

During his meeting with Mr. Herzog, Mr. Blinken spoke of the very difficult moment that Israel is going through, while saying that the country had real chances of integration with its Arab neighbors.

He declared Monday evening that he had discussed, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, the normalization of ties with Israel. Negotiations on normalization with Israel were suspended a week after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

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The head of American diplomacy met Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Al-Ula on January 8, 2024, in northern Saudi Arabia, during his tour of the Middle East to try to ease tensions in the region.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden said he was working discreetly with the Israeli government to get it to reduce the presence of its troops in Gaza.

In Cairo, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, deplored, during a visit by his German counterpart, that no real effort to prevent the displacement of Palestinians had been made by the Israelis. On the contrary, the measures taken encourage displacement, he continued.

Israeli bombings have razed entire neighborhoods of Gaza. International organizations are warning of the ongoing health disaster in this territory where 85% of the population has been displaced and where humanitarian aid is arriving in dribs and drabs.

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States, joined Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem on Monday in condemning a declared policy of famine carried out by Israel in Gaza.

The Israeli army has at the same time announced a new phase of the war in Gaza. Army spokesman Daniel Hagari told the New York Timesthat it would involve fewer troops and airstrikes, and added that troop deployment would be reduced from January.

Although “There are still terrorists and weapons in the north, they no longer act in an organized military framework, he said during a press briefing, adding that troops now operate differently in this area. He also recalled that the fighting would continue during 2024.

The conflict has also increased violence to a level not seen for nearly twenty years in the West Bank occupied.

And since the start of the war, cross-border hostilities have left more than 180 dead in Lebanon, including more than 135 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP count. On the Israeli side, nine soldiers and five civilians were killed, according to the authorities.

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