Hamas Official Calls on US to Press Israel for Gaza Ceasefire Ahead of Blinken’s Visit

Hamas Official Calls on US to Press Israel for Gaza Ceasefire Ahead of Blinken's Visit

Summary: A senior Hamas official has urged the United States to pressure Israel to end its military actions in Gaza ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the region on Monday, which aims to promote ceasefire efforts and prevent the conflict from spreading to Lebanon. Blinken, on his eighth visit since the October 7 escalation, will also visit Jordan and Qatar. Meanwhile, Israeli tanks have advanced further north in Gaza, displacing many residents. This visit follows President Joe Biden’s proposed ceasefire plan, which seeks a permanent end to hostilities, the release of hostages, and Gaza’s reconstruction. The conflict has resulted in over 1,200 Israeli deaths and more than 37,000 Palestinian fatalities.

A senior Hamas official has urged the United States to exert pressure on Israel to bring an end to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. This call comes ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to the region on Monday, aimed at advancing ceasefire efforts and preventing the conflict from spilling over into Lebanon.

“We call upon the U.S. administration to put pressure on the occupation to stop the war on Gaza and the Hamas movement is ready to deal positively with any initiative that secures an end to the war,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a high-ranking Hamas official.

Blinken’s visit marks his eighth trip to the region since the violent escalation began on October 7, following an attack by Hamas militants on Israel. This incident has led to the most intense episode in the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During his visit, Blinken will also travel to Jordan and Qatar later in the week.

In Cairo, Blinken is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before heading to Israel for discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as per the State Department’s itinerary.

On the ground in Gaza, Palestinian residents reported that Israeli tanks attempted to advance further north early Monday, targeting Shaboura, a densely populated neighborhood known for its militant activity. Israeli forces have since secured Gaza’s entire border with Egypt, extending from Rafah to the Mediterranean, causing significant displacement among the 280,000 residents and pushing around one million people, who had sought refuge in Rafah, to flee further.

Blinken’s diplomatic efforts follow U.S. President Joe Biden’s May 31 announcement of a three-phase ceasefire proposal. The plan from Israel includes a permanent cessation of hostilities, the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and the reconstruction of Gaza.

The conflict has resulted in significant casualties. The initial Hamas attack led to the deaths of 1,200 people and the taking of approximately 250 hostages, according to Israeli reports. In retaliation, Israel launched an extensive military operation in Gaza, which the territory’s health ministry, governed by Hamas, states has resulted in over 37,000 Palestinian deaths as of Sunday.

Blinken’s upcoming meetings and efforts are crucial in the ongoing attempts to stabilize the region and address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza. His visit highlights the urgent need for diplomatic intervention to halt the violence and seek a long-term resolution to the conflict.

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