Blinken due in Israel for tough Gaza talks - GulfToday

Blinken due in Israel for tough Gaza talks


Antony Blinken looks on during a joint press conference in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday. AFP

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken was due in Israel on Monday for difficult talks on the war in Gaza as fears grow that the conflict could engulf the wider region.

Speaking in Qatar on Sunday, Blinken said that Palestinians displaced by the now four-month-old war must be allowed to "return home", while warning that the violence could "easily metastasize" into a regional conflict.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, violence has escalated in the occupied West Bank and on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, while Yemen's Huthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile strikes towards targets in the Red Sea and Israel.

At least 85 per cent of Gaza's 2.4 million people have been displaced by fighting, according to UN figures.

"I wake up thinking this is a passing nightmare, but it is a reality," said Gaza resident Nabil Fathi, 51.

"Our home and my son's home have been destroyed and we have 20 people martyred in our family. I don't know where we will go even if I survive."

Journalists killed

Two journalists working for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network were killed on Sunday when their car was struck in southern Gaza's city of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, the broadcaster said.

The wife (right) of Hamza Wael Dahdouh and his father along with other family members mourn his death.

They were named as Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer who also worked for AFP and other media organisations, and Hamza Wael Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief who had earlier lost his wife and two other children in an Israeli strike.

Witnesses told AFP that two rockets were fired at the car — one hit the front of the vehicle and the other hit Hamza who was sitting next to the driver.

The Israeli army told the media that it had "struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to IDF troops", adding that it was "aware of the reports that during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle as the terrorist were also hit".

In Qatar, Blinken condemned the deaths as an "unimaginable tragedy".

Antony Blinken (left) before he departs Doha on Sunday. AFP

International aid groups said Israeli attacks on one of Gaza's last functioning hospitals had forced them to evacuate.

The World Health Organization said Sunday it had evacuated more than 600 patients from the Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza following "troubling reports of increasing hostilities".

Doctors Without Borders said a day earlier it had evacuated its staff from the same hospital after a bullet penetrated a wall in the intensive care unit.

Agence France-Presse


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