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Blinken: The toll of Israel's military operations in Gaza remains too high

February 8, 2024 at 10:06 am

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, during a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024 [Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday evening that the toll of Israel’s military operations on civilians in Gaza remains too high.

Speaking during a press conference held in Israel on the side-lines of his fifth tour of the region since the outbreak of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza on 7 October, he noted: “I said to the prime minister and to other Israeli officials today, the daily toll that its military operations continue to take on innocent civilians remains too high.”

“On all of my previous visits here and pretty much every day in between, we have pressed Israel in concrete ways to strengthen civilian protection.”

“We remain determined as well to pursue a diplomatic path to a just and lasting peace, and security for all in the region, and notably for Israel,” he said.

Blinken considered that “Israel is fully justified in confronting Hamas and other terrorist organisations, and that’s why the United States has done more than any other country to support Israel’s right to ensure that October 7th never happens again.”

However, “the overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7th.”

Regarding the negotiations for a ceasefire, Blinken explained that Washington sees “space in what came back to pursue negotiations to see if we can get to an agreement, and that’s what we intend to do.”

In response to a question about whether the US believes Hamas can have a role in governing Gaza, the minister answered, “No.”

Blinken’s statements came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Hamas’ demands for a prisoner exchange deal as “delusional” and “unacceptable,” vowing to continue fighting in the Gaza Strip and work to expand military operations in the city of Rafah, south of the Strip, on the border with Egypt.

On Tuesday, Hamas announced that it had delivered its response to Egypt and Qatar regarding the “framework agreement” for the prisoner exchange proposal and a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli ministerial council is scheduled to discuss Hamas’ response to the proposal for a truce deal in Gaza and the prisoner exchange, today.

READ: Blinken says ‘lot of work to be done’ before Gaza ceasefire deal