Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Friday, with the primary objective of urging the Israeli government to reconsider its ongoing offensive in Gaza. This visit comes as the international community increasingly condemns the operation and as the civilian death toll continues to rise.

Blinken is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a focus on seeking “concrete steps” to “protect civilians who are in a crossfire of Hamas’s making, and we want to look at concrete steps that can be taken to better protect them.”

Blinken said  that the United States, Israel, other democracies “have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect civilians who may be caught in harm’s way.  And this, again, is a crossfire quite literally of Hamas’s making.  The fact that it cynically and monstrously, deliberately has people – men, women, and children – as human shields, puts its command posts, puts its leadership, puts its fighters, puts its weapons, puts its munitions underneath hospitals or even inside them – schools, mosques – makes this incredibly challenging.”

This is the second visit to Israel by Blinken in just a month, the first coming in the wake of a deadly Hamas attack. As the U.S. government aims to strike a balance between supporting Israel’s defense efforts and making a more vocal call for the protection of civilians, the discussions between Blinken and Israeli officials hold significant importance.

Prior to the trip, Blinken addressed reporters stating that discussions with Israel would revolve around taking “concrete steps” to reduce harm to civilians in Gaza.

According to White House national security spokesman John Kirby, the United States is not pushing for a total cease-fire, but rather, a “temporary, localized” one.

“When we’re talking about a humanitarian pause, what we’re talking about are temporary, localized pauses in the fighting to meet a certain goal or goals — as I said, get aid in, get people out.”


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