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Blinken voices hope for ceasefire deal between Israel, Hamas

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-08 01:05
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands during their meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM -- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Israel on Wednesday that further efforts are needed on a hostage-for-ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas but expressed optimism such a deal can be achieved.

Blinken landed in Israel on Wednesday as part of his fifth trip to the region since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct 7, 2023.

One day following talks with negotiators in Qatar, the US secretary of state aims to brief senior officials about the efforts to broker a ceasefire deal.

The Gulf country reportedly mediated a gradual agreement whereby Israel would halt military operations in exchange for the release of hostages from Gaza and Palestinian detainees from Israel.

"We're looking at it intensely, as is, I know, the government of Israel," said Blinken in joint statements alongside Israel's President Isaac Herzog.

"There's a lot of work to be done, but we are very much focused on doing that work and hopefully being able to resume the release of hostages that was interrupted," he added.

Blinken also reiterated his call for Israel to allow more aid into the Gaza Strip, where an Israeli retaliatory offensive has killed over 27,700 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, he raised warnings from the United Nations about an impending famine.

"We all have an obligation to do everything possible to get the necessary assistance to those who so desperately need it, and the steps that are being taken, additional steps that need to be taken, are the focus of my meetings here," said Blinken.

Earlier Wednesday, Israel's state-owned Kan TV news reported that Israeli far-right protesters, along with a few family members of hostages, blocked the Kerem Shalom crossing, a passageway for vehicles between Israel and Gaza.

It was the second consecutive day that protesters blocked the crossing to prevent aid trucks from entering the Palestinian enclave.

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