Blinken says Israel must still do more to boost humanitarian aid to Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that Israel must still do more to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

Mr Blinken said that he would use his current Middle East trip — his seventh to the region since the Israel-Hamas war started in October — to press that case with Israeli leaders.

Speaking at events in Riyadh, Mr Blinken said the best way to ease the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza would be to conclude an elusive ceasefire agreement that would release hostages held by Hamas.

And, he said Hamas had been presented with an “extraordinarily generous” offer by Israel that he hoped the group would accept.

At a World Economic Forum gathering in the Saudi capital, Mr Blinken said: “Hamas has before it a proposal that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel and in this moment the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and ceasefire is Hamas.

“They have to decide, and they have to decide quickly. So, we’re looking to that and I’m hopeful that they will make the right decision and we can have a fundamental change in the dynamic.”

Although talks continue, Hamas has thus far baulked at a series of offers negotiated by Egypt, Qatar and the United States and agreed to by Israel, and even without a deal, Mr Blinken said it was critical to improve conditions in Gaza now.

“We’re also not waiting on a ceasefire to take the necessary steps to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza,” Mr Blinken told Gulf Co-operation Council foreign ministers earlier on Monday.


“We have seen measurable progress in the last few weeks, including the opening of new crossings and increased volume of aid delivery to Gaza and within Gaza, and the building of the US maritime corridor, which will open in the coming weeks.

“But it is not enough. We still need to get more aid in and around Gaza,” he said.

“We need to improve deconfliction with humanitarian assistance workers. And we have to find greater efficiency and greater safety and deconfliction is at the heart of that.

“And, finally we have to make sure that we’re focusing not just on inputs, but on impact.”

Scores of relief workers have been killed since the conflict began, and a deadly Israeli attack on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy in Gaza this month only highlighted the dangers and difficulties of protecting them.

Israel has said the strike was a mistake and has disciplined officials involved.

World Central Kitchen says it will resume operations in Gaza on Monday after a four-week suspension.

The war has ground on since Hamas’ deadly October 7 attacks on Israel with little end in sight.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed, hundreds of thousands more are displaced and a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening.

The conflict has fuelled mass protests around the world that have spread to American college campuses.

US support for Israel, particularly arms transfers, has come under particular criticism, something the administration is keenly aware poses potential problems for US President Joe Biden in an election year.

Mr Blinken’s trip comes amid renewed concerns about the conflict spreading in the Middle East and with once-promising prospects for Israeli-Saudi rapprochement effectively on hold as Israel refuses to consider the creation of a Palestinian state, which is one of the Saudis’ main conditions for normalised relations.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been warning Israel against a major military operation on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting further north.

Israel has not yet launched such an offensive, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that one will take place, asserting that it is the only way to wipe out Hamas.

Both topics were discussed during the Biden-Netanyahu phone call on Sunday, according to the White House and US officials.

During his trip, Mr Blinken said he would also underscore the absolute importance of not allowing the Israel-Hamas conflict to engulf the region.

The danger of conflagration was underscored this month when a suspected Israeli attack on an Iranian consular building in Syria prompted an unprecedented direct missile and drone response by Iran against Israel.

An apparent retaliatory Israeli strike on Iran followed.

Although the tit-for-tat cycle appears to have ended for now, deep concerns remain that Iran or its proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria or Yemen could act in such a way as to provoke a greater response from Israel or that Israel might take action that Iran feels it must retaliate for.


No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *