In Israel, Blinken set to push Netanyahu for sustained aid into Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 1 kicked off a series of meetings with Israeli governors aimed at talking in depth about how to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza while, simultaneously, repeatedly urging Palestinian militant group Hamas to receive a deal that will release hostages and get a ceasefire.

Following visits to Riyadh and Amman earlier this week, the United States’ top diplomat is currently in Israel for the final halt of his wider Middle East tour. It is his seventh visit to the area, which was plunged into conflict on Oct 7 when Hamas attacked Israel.

His top priority in Israel will be to push the Israeli government to take a set of specific steps so that modifications in the humanitarian aid flow into the densely populated enclave.

“Even as we’re working with extreme determination to get the ceasefire that brings the hostages abode , we also have to be focused on people in Gaza for suffering in this crossfire of Hamas’ making,” Mr Blinken said in comments at the start of his meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.

“Focused on getting them the assistance they require, the food, and medicine, the water or shelter is also very much on our minds.” Hamas murdered 1,200 people and kidnapping 250 others in its Oct 7 assault on Israel, according to Israeli tallies.

In response, Israel has launched an endless assault on Gaza, killing more than 34,000 Palestinians, the local health authorities say, in a bombardment that has reduced the enclave to a wasteland. More than one million people face famine after six months of war, the United Nations has said.

Mr Blinken’s check-in with Mr Netanyahu on aid will take place about a month after US President Joe Biden issued a serious warning to the Israeli Prime Minister, saying Washington’s policy could shift if Israel fails to take steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the security of aid workers.