Reviewing his diplomacy since the start of the war, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that one of the main goals of his first trip to the region last month was to coax Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, which it subsequently agreed to do.
The goal of the second trip was to advance a humanitarian pause, which would allow more hostages to come out and aid to go in, which was reached shortly after he left.
The goals of the third trip, which he is currently on, are to secure the release of additional hostages, facilitate the acceleration of more humanitarian aid and ensure that Israel takes actions to protect civilians, as it resumes its military operation, Blinken says.
While in Tel Aviv yesterday, Blinken said he told Israeli leaders that when the IDF resumes its military campaign, it must clearly designate multiple safe zones in northern and central Gaza for civilians to avoid the fighting; avoid further mass displacement of Palestinians; avoid the targeting of “life-critical infrastructure” such as hospitals, power stations and water treatment plants; and allow the eventual return of displaced Palestinians to northern Gaza.
He tells reporters in Dubai that the IDF has begun positively responding to those calls by publishing a map splitting the Gaza Strip into hundreds of small zones, which it will use to notify Palestinian civilians of active combat zones.
The military is expected to use this map to call on Palestinians from specific areas to evacuate when the IDF’s ground offensive expands to the Strip’s south, instead of demanding mass evacuations as it did in the northern part of Gaza.
Blinken says the US will be monitoring this issue closely moving forward while also working on ensuring conflict doesn’t spread to other places.
“We’ve been very clear that we support Israel in its efforts to make sure that October 7 never happens again. We’ve also been very clear about the imperative of doing that in a way that puts a premium on protecting civilians and making sure that humanitarian assistance gets to those who need it,” Blinken says.