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Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to return to Israel this week, aiming to facilitate an extended ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. This visit will be his third to the region since the outbreak of hostilities last month.
During his visit, Blinken will address critical issues, as outlined by the State Department. Discussions will focus on Israel’s right to self-defense within international humanitarian law boundaries, efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages, the protection of civilian life in Gaza, and the acceleration of humanitarian aid to the region.
Additionally, Blinken is expected to deliberate on the future of a Palestinian state in post-conflict Gaza and strategies to prevent further escalation of the conflict.
Blinken’s arrival coincides with the nearing expiry of the first extension of the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. The ceasefire, extended for an additional two days, facilitated the release of hostages and prisoners.
According to White House spokesperson John Kirby, the extended truce should see the release of 20 more hostages. In return, Israel has agreed to release Palestinian detainees and deliver aid to Gaza. These detainees were primarily teenagers accused of minor offenses against Israeli forces.
Amid these negotiations, Israel maintains its commitment to neutralizing Hamas and its military capabilities. The conflict has resulted in significant casualties, with the Hamas-ruled health ministry reporting over 13,000 deaths in Gaza since October 7. The initial Hamas attack resulted in over 1,200 Israeli fatalities and numerous hostages.