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Blinken seeks to avert wider war, Israel says it is not fighting a single enemy

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has warned that unless there are coordinated peace efforts, the Gaza conflict may spread throughout the region. On Monday, he will conduct discussions in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia before continuing on to Israel.

In an attempt to stop a larger war in the area, Blinken began a five-day diplomatic mission in Jordan and Qatar on Sunday. This week, he is also scheduled to travel to Egypt and the West Bank.

“This is a moment of profound tension for the region. This is a conflict that could easily metastasize, causing even more insecurity and suffering,” Blinken told a press conference in Doha before heading to Abu Dhabi.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the intensity of the offensive in Gaza signalled his country’s determination to destroy the militant group Hamas that rules the enclave and deter other potential Iran-backed adversaries, including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“My basic view: We are fighting an axis, not a single enemy,” Gallant told the Wall Street Journal. “Iran is building up military power around Israel in order to use it.”

Israel and Hezbollah often trade fire across the Lebanese border and the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen seem determined to continue attacks on Red Sea shipping until Israel stops bombarding Palestinians in Gaza.

The Gaza war was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on Israeli towns on Oct. 7 that Israel says killed some 1,200 people. It says 240 were taken hostage.

The Israeli offensive has so far killed 22,835 Palestinians in Gaza, Palestinian health officials said on Sunday, with 111 dead and 250 wounded added to the tally in the previous 24 hours.

The fighting has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million population, left many homes and civilian infrastructure in ruins, and caused acute shortages of food, water, and medicines.

Blinken said he would tell Israeli officials it is imperative they do more to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and that Palestinian civilians must be allowed to return home and not be pressed to leave Gaza.

Jordan’s King Abdullah urged Blinken to use Washington’s influence over Israel to press it for an immediate ceasefire and warned of the “catastrophic repercussions” of Israel’s continued military campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting.

“The war must not be stopped until we achieve all the goals: the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” he said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “I say this to both our enemies and our friends.”

Despite global concern over the death and destruction in Gaza and widespread calls for a ceasefire, Israeli public opinion remains firmly behind the operation, although support for Netanyahu has fallen sharply.

According to a State Department official, Blinken’s goal is to pressure reluctant Muslim countries in the Middle East to get ready to help with Gaza’s security, administration, and rebuilding in the event that Israel defeats Hamas.

There was further bloodshed outside of Gaza in the occupied West Bank, where over the past several weeks, hundreds of Palestinians have died in clashes with Israeli forces and Israelis.

Israel’s military said Israeli aircraft fired on Palestinian militants who had attacked troops in the city of Jenin. Palestinian health officials said seven Palestinians died in the strike.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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