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'Immediate focus is to extend the pause; continue to get more hostages out of Gaza,' says US State Secy Blinken

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Tel Aviv | December 1, 2023 7:49:49 AM IST
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a visit to Israel, stressed that his immediate focus is working with its partners to extend the pause, to continue to get more hostages released out of Gaza.

Noting that he has come to Israel once again, to advance several goals, Blinken said, "Our immediate focus is working with our partners to extend the pause so that we can continue to get more hostages out of Gaza and more assistance in."

Underscoring that today is the seventh day of the humanitarian pause in Gaza, he said that the US worked closely with Israel, Qatar, and Egypt to put it in place.

"The seventh day that hostages have been freed and are returning home to their families. The seventh day that significantly more humanitarian assistance is getting into the people of Gaza who need it. And the seventh day that civilians in Gaza have been able to move to safer areas," he added.

Blinken further emphasised that there are scores of family here in Israel, the US, and around the world whose loved ones continue to be held captive and who are desperate to get them home safely.

"We will not stop working until we get every hostage back home with their families and loved ones," he stressed.

At the same time, he said, that the US continue to surge humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

"Together with the UN, our partners in the region, we have significantly increased the flow of food, water, medicine, fuel to power desalination plants, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure," he said.

Blinken highlighted that over the past week, the mechanisms that the US helped to negotiate and implement have more than doubled the number of trucks getting Gaza.

However, he added, that this is still not enough to meet the needs of its people, which is why the US will continue to work urgently to get more aid in and to get it in faster.

"Sustaining and increasing the flow of humanitarian aid, in particular fuel, restocking stores with commercial goods - these are vital to the lives and livelihoods and well-being of men, women, and children," he stated.

Blinken further reinstated that Israel has the right to do everything it can to ensure that the slaughter Hamas carried out on October 7 can never be repeated, stressing, "Hamas cannot remain in control of Gaza. It cannot retain the capacity to repeat that carnage."

He further recalled the appalling terrorist attack on people waiting at a bus stop in Jerusalem on Thursday morning, which killed three Israeli civilians and wounded at least six others, including two American citizens.

Moreover, Hamas has claimed responsibility for that attack and called its perpetrators heroic, Blinken said.

Noting his meetings with Israeli officials, he said, "In my meetings today with the prime minister and senior Israeli officials, I made clear that before Israel resumes major military operations, it must put in place humanitarian civilian protection plans that minimize further casualties of innocent Palestinians."

Praising Israel's military, Blinken said that Israel has the most sophisticated and one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.

"It is capable of neutralizing the threat posed by Hamas while minimizing harm to innocent men, women, and children. And it has an obligation to do so. Ultimately, that's not just the right thing to do, it's also in Israel's security interest. The prime minister and members of the war cabinet agreed with the need for this approach," he said.

Hamas could lay down its arms, surrender the leaders who are responsible for the

Moreover, US State Secretary highlighted that in their ongoing conversations with Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab leaders, they will discuss practical steps to make real a just and lasting peace and what each of us is prepared to do to help achieve it.

"We have no illusions this is going to be easy. We will surely have disagreements along the way," he said, adding, "But if we're going to move forward on practical steps toward lasting peace, lasting security, we have to be willing to work through those disagreements, because the alternative - more terrorist attacks, more violence, more innocent suffering - is unacceptable." (ANI)

 
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