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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Fighting at Al Shifa rages for fourth day, Blinken arrives in Cairo for ceasefire talks with officials

Blinken began his latest West Asian tour on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for talks on Gaza, where food shortages affect 2.3 million Palestinians and in some areas exceed famine levels, according to the UN

Reuters Cairo Published 22.03.24, 06:15 AM
Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken File image

US secretary of state Antony Blinken arrived in Cairo on Thursday for talks with Arab officials to push for a ceasefire in Gaza after Israel’s Prime Minister told US Republicans there would be no let-up in the war against Hamas.

In Gaza itself, Israel’s military offensive centred on the Al Shifa hospital, the only partially working medical facility in the north of the Strip, for a fourth day, and local residents said they had seen buildings in flames inside the complex.

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Blinken began his latest West Asian tour on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for talks on Gaza, where food shortages affect 2.3 million Palestinians and in some areas exceed famine levels, according to the UN.

“We’re pressing for an immediate ceasefire tied to the release of hostages. That would bring immediate relief to so many people who are suffering in Gaza — the children, the women, the men,” Blinken told the Arabic broadcaster Al Hadath. He said the US had drafted a resolution at the UN to that effect.

Ceasefire talks resumed this week in Qatar after Israel rejected a Hamas proposal last week. The sides are discussing a truce of around six weeks that would allow the release of 40 Israeli hostages in return for hundreds of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails.

However, Hamas says it will release hostages only as part of an agreement that would end the war, while Israel says it will discuss only a temporary pause.

“I think the gaps are narrowing, and I think an agreement is very much possible,” Blinken told Al Hadath. “The Israeli team is present, and has the authority to reach an agreement.”

Near Al Shifa, residents told Reuters via a chat app that the army had blown up houses close by as buildings in the hospital complex burned.

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