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The Latest | In Israel, Blinken Pushes Hamas to Agree on Gaza Cease-Fire Deal
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By Associated Press
Published 4 weeks ago on
May 1, 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel to press for a cease-fire deal in the Israel-Hamas war, warning that Hamas would bear the blame for any failure to reach an agreement. (AP/Oded Balilty)

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel on Wednesday to press for a cease-fire deal in the Israel-Hamas war, saying “the time is now” and warning that Hamas would bear the blame for any failure to reach an agreement to halt the war in Gaza.

Blinken greeted the families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza who were protesting outside a meeting between him and Israel’s president, telling them that setting their loved ones free was “at the heart of everything we’re trying to do.”

Efforts to Advance a Truce

On his seventh visit since the latest war between Israel and Hamas broke out in October, Blinken is trying to advance a truce that would free hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a halt to the fighting and delivery of much needed food, medicine and water into Gaza. Palestinian prisoners are also expected to be released as part of the deal.

Increasing Aid Deliveries

The U.S. has pressured Israel to increase aid deliveries during the war, and on Tuesday, Israel reopened a border crossing with the hard-hit northern Gaza Strip for the first time since it was damaged at the start of the war.

On Oct. 7, Palestinian militants launched an unprecedented attack into southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducting around 250 hostages. Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Impact of the War

Nearly seven months of Israeli bombardment and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, and sparked a humanitarian catastrophe. The war has driven around 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes, caused vast destruction in several towns and cities and pushed northern Gaza to the brink of famine.

 

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