Blinken pressed Netanyahu-confidant Dermer on expanding aid to Gaza – US State Dept.

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Secretary of of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone earlier today with Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, pressing the Netanyahu confidant for Israel to do more to expand the amount of aid entering Gaza, due to the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Strip, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller says.

The US is pushing Israel to open additional crossings into Gaza, though Jerusalem has long resisted the step, warning that it could lead to a resurgence of Hamas activity in northern Gaza, where aid has been very limited. Israel also says it will only allow a minimal amount of aid into Gaza, where Hamas continues to hold 130 hostages.

Blinken’s call notably comes just one day before he is slated to meet with visiting war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, when the issue of humanitarian aid will be at the top of his agenda.

Given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disapproval of Gantz’s visit to Washington, the decision to also relay the message through Dermer points to a possible US effort to ensure that it is heard clearly by all decision-makers in Jerusalem.

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