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Antony Blinken asks Benjamin Netanyahu spare civilians in Gaza | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Benjamin Netanyahu this Tuesday to spare civilians in Gaza. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

Visiting Tel Aviv this Tuesday, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, called Israel to spare Palestinian civilians in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The conflict entered its fourth month on Sunday and, despite numerous diplomatic efforts, nothing seems to be able to put an end to it, while the UN and NGOs are sounding the alarm about the disastrous living conditions of the population in the besieged Palestinian territory.

During his fifth official visit to Israel since the start of the war, Mr. Blinken reaffirmed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [American] support for Israel's right to prevent a repeat of the October 7 attacks, while emphasizing the importance of preventing further harm to civilians and protecting civilian infrastructure in Gaza, according to the State Department.

The war between Israel and Hamas was triggered by an unprecedented attack carried out on October 7 from the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil. It left around 1,140 dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on the Israeli toll.

In retaliation, Israel, which has sworn to destroy Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, launched an offensive in the Palestinian territory, with massive bombings and ground operations.

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Since the start of the ground offensive on October 27 , 185 Israeli soldiers were killed, including nine on Monday, according to a report published Tuesday.

The Israeli army's strikes left more than 23,210 dead in the Palestinian territory, mainly women, adolescents and children, according to a Hamas report on Tuesday.

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An AFP correspondent reported intense bombings during the night from Monday to Tuesday in Khan Younès and Rafah, the large cities in the south of the territory, where thousands of people have found refuge since the start of the war, after intense bombings in the north.

The Israeli military announced a new phase of the war, with its spokesman Daniel Hagari telling the New York Times on Monday that it would involve fewer troops and airstrikes, adding that troop deployment would be reduced starting in January.

In a meeting with Blinken, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also said that army operations would intensify in the Khan Yunis region.

Israel's primary political and military supporter, the United States insists on the absolute imperative to minimize the loss of life of Palestinian civilians, saying it is pressing the Israeli authorities to adapt their military campaign with a view to more targeted actions, in order also to allow the delivery of much larger quantities of humanitarian aid.

Mr. Blinken began a tour last week of several countries in the Middle East aimed in particular at trying to avoid a spillover of the conflict in the region, where Hamas has several allies, with armed groups supported by the ;Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Increasing pressure on Iran is crucial and could prevent regional escalation on other fronts, Gallant said Tuesday during his meeting with Blinken.

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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. An artillery missile was launched from northern Israel on January 4.

Lebanese Hezbollah announced on Tuesday that it had targeted a center of military command in northern Israel, a country neighboring Lebanon, in retaliation for the death of one of its commanders, Wissam Tawil, killed Monday in a strike attributed to Israel.

Israel confirmed that an enemy aircraft had fallen on its base, without causing any injuries.

An Israeli drone also targeted a car stationed in a locality in southern Lebanon, according to the official Lebanese Agency Ani. The attack left three Hezbollah members dead, a security source told AFP.

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The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Tel Aviv, January 9, 2024.

On Tuesday, Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, called on Muslim countries to support his movement in the war by providing it with weapons.

Visiting Saudi Arabia on Monday, Mr. Blinken said he had discussed the normalization of ties between Riyadh and Israel, the process of which was suspended after the start of the war.

During an interview on Tuesday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, he spoke of the very difficult moment Israel is going through, while believing that the country had chances real integration in the Middle East with its Arab neighbors.

On the sidelines of his meetings with Israeli officials, the American Secretary of State met in the afternoon with families of hostages, reiterating the tireless efforts to free them.

Some 250 people were kidnapped in the October 7 attack in Israel and taken to Gaza, around 100 of whom have since been released.

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Protesters demanding the release of hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack gathered in front of the Kempinski Hotel in Tel Aviv, where Mr. Blinken met with President Isaac Herzog.

On Tuesday morning, a small group of demonstrators gathered in front of the hotel where Mr. Blinken met with the Israeli president demanded the release of the hostages, chanting in particular Bring them back now.

At the same time, international organizations are warning of the health disaster in the Gaza Strip, where 85% of the population has been displaced and where humanitarian aid is arriving in trickles.

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Despite a UN Security Council resolution last month calling for more aid to be delivered, the World Health Organization (WHO) says things have only gotten worse.

The organization said Tuesday it was seeing its capacity to help Gaza residents shrink, speaking of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The conflict has also increased violence to a level not seen in nearly twenty years in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

L' The Palestinian Authority accused Israeli forces on Tuesday of rolling over the body of a man during a military operation. A video widely shared on social networks shows a military vehicle stopping in front of an inanimate body before restarting and driving over it.

L& #x27;Israeli army, which frequently carries out operations in the West Bank, confirmed exchanges of fire during an operation in the Tulkarem sector (north) and the death of three terrorists, but did not of comments on the images.

In The Hague, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Tuesday that crimes against journalists were included in its investigation into war crimes in Gaza, where several dozen journalists were killed.

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