US officials have reiterated calls for Israel to ease its assault on Gaza as the Ministry of Health in the besieged Palestinian territory reports hundreds of more deaths.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting the Middle East amid growing alarm that Israel’s war on Gaza could turn into a regional conflagration. He arrived in Israel late on Monday after a day meeting Gulf Arab leaders.
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Israeli officials have said they are entering a new phase of more targeted warfare after the mass bombardments that have laid waste to the Gaza Strip and killed more than 23,000 people, according to Palestinian authorities.
Blinken held talks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Monday to try to chart a way out of the conflict.
Saudi state news agency SPA reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) stressed the importance of ceasing hostilities in Gaza and forming a path to peace.
SPA said MBS emphasised the need to restore stability and to ensure the Palestinian people gain their legitimate rights.
Blinken said he would tell Israeli officials in their meeting later that they must do more to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and they must allow Palestinians to return to their homes after several calls from right-wing Israeli officials for the displacement of Palestinians out of Gaza.
He announced that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE would consider participating in and contributing to “day after” scenarios for Gaza.
“We agreed to work together and to coordinate our efforts to help Gaza stabilise and recover, to chart a political path forward for the Palestinians to work toward long-term peace, security and stability in the region as a whole,” he told reporters.
While he did not offer specifics, he said the countries had agreed to use their leverage and influence in the region to prevent the war from spilling into neighbouring countries.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also attended the meeting in Saudi Arabia.
In the United States, President Joe Biden was interrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire while giving an address in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I understand their passion, and I’ve been quietly working, quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza,” Biden said.
‘New phase of war’
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Monday that the war in Gaza would move away from the “intense manoeuvring phase of the war” toward “different types of special operations”.
Gallant told The Wall Street Journal that the next phase will last for a “longer time”.
“We’re close to the next phase in the north, including Gaza City. … It will take some time, but we aren’t going to give up.”
At least 23,084 people have been killed, and 58,926 wounded in Israel’s assault on Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
At least 249 people were killed in the latest 24-hour reporting period and 510 wounded, the ministry said on Monday.