Blinken Urges Israel-Hamas Ceasefire in Gaza Amid Humanitarian Crisis

US urges ceasefire in Gaza as airstrikes kill 20, fearing humanitarian crisis and wider regional conflict. Blinken visits Riyadh to push for deal, as ICC investigates potential war crimes.

Geeta Pillai
New Update
Blinken Urges Israel-Hamas Ceasefire in Gaza Amid Humanitarian Crisis

Blinken Urges Israel-Hamas Ceasefire in Gaza Amid Humanitarian Crisis

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, citing concerns over famine and overnight airstrikes that killed 20 Palestinians in Rafah. Blinken made the remarks during a regional leaders gathering in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 29, 2024.

The airstrikes hit three houses in Rafah, a city along the Gaza-Egypt border hosting more than half of Gaza's population seeking shelter from Israel's military operation. The strikes killed a total of 22 people, including six women, five children, and a 5-day-old infant. Israel has regularly carried out airstrikes on Rafah since the start of the war and threatened to send in ground troops, despite the US and others urging Israel not to invade, fearing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Why this matters: The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has brought Gaza to the brink of famine, displaced most of its 2.3 million population, and raised fears of a wider regional confrontation. Blinken's visit and call for a ceasefire underscore the urgent need for international intervention to address the escalating humanitarian crisis and prevent further loss of civilian lives.

Negotiations have been underway for months to halt the fighting, but Israel and Hamas remain at an impasse. The US has been pushing for a six-week ceasefire, while Hamas has demanded that Israel end the war and leave Gaza. Mediators, backed by the US, have stepped up efforts to conclude a deal as Israel threatened to invade Rafah.

Blinken arrived in Riyadh to meet with regional leaders and emphasize the US view that Hamas is the obstacle to a ceasefire. He is expected to discuss the governance of Gaza after the war ends, as well as efforts for a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The US agrees with Israel's objective to eradicate Hamas, but does not want Israel to re-occupy Gaza.

The International Criminal Court is investigating potential war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militants, with Israel concerned that arrest warrants may be issued against its leaders. The US and others have warned against an Israeli invasion of Rafah, saying it would be catastrophic for the over 1 million Palestinians sheltering there.

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, the Israeli army killed 66 Palestinians and wounded 138 others in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 34,454 and injuries to 77,575 since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began on October 7, 2023. "The atmosphere is positive unless there are new Israeli obstacles," a senior

Key Takeaways

  • Blinken urges ceasefire in Gaza to address humanitarian crisis.
  • Airstrikes kill 22 Palestinians, including women and children, in Rafah.
  • Conflict threatens famine, displaces 2.3M Gazans, risks wider regional war.
  • US pushes 6-week ceasefire, Hamas demands Israel end war and leave Gaza.
  • ICC investigates potential war crimes by Israel and Palestinian militants.