US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called for the extension of the truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip for “an eighth day and beyond”. The truce between the two belligerents, which was initially supposed to last five days, has been renewed since November 24 but should theoretically end Friday morning at 7 a.m. (5 a.m. GMT). However, negotiations continue for a possible extension beyond this deadline.
“Clearly, we want to see this process continue to move forward,” Antony Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after a visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank. “We want an eighth day and beyond,” he said. This truce negotiated step by step, hour by hour, under the aegis of Egypt and Qatar offered respite to the population of Gaza who have been relentlessly shelled since the bloody Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7.
Create “safe” zones for Palestinian civilians if fighting resumes
Antony Blinken met during the day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The American Secretary of State also called on the Israeli army to create “safe” zones for Palestinian civilians in the south and center of Gaza in the event of a resumption of fighting. “Plans for the humanitarian protection of civilians must be put in place to minimize the deaths of innocent Palestinians,” he said.
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“This means taking more effective measures to protect the lives of civilians, including clearly and precisely designating areas and locations in southern and central Gaza where they can be safe and protected from the line of fire.” , he added. Antony Blinken considered it imperative, for Israel, an ally of the United States, “that the mive loss of civilian lives and displacement of the magnitude that we saw in the north of Gaza are not repeated in the south” of the territory controlled since 2007 by Hamas.