Gaza: Antony Blinken visits Israel as conflict threatens to spread

The US Secretary of State has also met with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.40 9 Jan 2024

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Gaza: Antony Blinken visits Is...

Gaza: Antony Blinken visits Israel as conflict threatens to spread

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.40 9 Jan 2024

Share this article

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel today, as the conflict threatens to spread beyond Gaza.

Mr Blinken has also met with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan as part of a whistle-stop tour of the region.

Israel is being blamed for the killing of the most senior Hezbollah leader in Lebanon yesterday.


Security sources told the Reuters news agency the victim was the deputy head of a unit within Hezbollah's elite Radwan force.

They identified him as Wissam al Tawil and said he was killed along with another fighter.

Sources told the agency the fatalities came when a car was hit in a strike on the Lebanese village of Majdal Selm.

Gaza hospitals

Reports says the death toll in Gaza has exceeded 23,000 with 249 killed by Israel in 24 hours.

Tens of thousands of people have sought shelter in Gaza's hospitals, which are also struggling to treat dozens of people wounded each day in Israeli strikes.

Only 13 of Gaza's 36 hospitals are even partially functioning, according to the UN humanitarian office.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that doctors and nurses at the only functioning hospital in Deir al Balah governorate "had been forced to cease lifesaving and other critical activities… and leave" at the weekend, following an evacuation order, issued amid "increasing" Israeli military activity.

Only five doctors reportedly remained at Al-Aqsa Hospital in the middle of Gaza on Sunday, where a health agency team delivered medical supplies to support 4,500 dialysis patients for three months and 500 patients needing trauma care.

From Al-Aqsa Hospital, WHO staff posted a video on social media on Sunday evening showing chaotic scenes as medics treated patients on the blood-streaked floor.

Hundreds of injured people have been arriving every day requiring treatment, but "the greatest need is for the hospital, its staff, patients and families there, to be protected from strikes and hostilities", said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

It comes as aid organisations have pulled their staff and patients out of the area as fighting grew closer.

The aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said an attack on a shelter in Khan Yunis saw the young daughter of a medical worker critically injured.

It said a shell broke through the wall of the MSF shelter housing over 100 staff and their families.

Four people were injured, including the five-year-old daughter of an MSF staff who is in critical condition.

"The staff and their families have moved to another location," the agency said.

"We are trying to understand what happened. MSF had informed Israeli Forces that this was an MSF shelter.

"MSF did not receive evacuation orders. We condemn this latest attack which shows yet again that no one and nowhere is safe in Gaza," it added.

Médecins Sans Frontières is operational in five hospitals in Gaza and one primary healthcare facility, Al-Shaboura Clinic.

'Grave crimes'

On Monday, top rights experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council also demanded prompt investigations and accountability for victims of sexual torture during the October 7th Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel.

Some 1,200 Israeli and foreign nationals were killed in the attacks and an estimated 240 adults, children and infants were also taken hostage.

In a statement they also called for justice relating to "other grave crimes" committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since the war in Gaza began.

"Investigators must be given the necessary resources, support and access required” to explore all alleged crimes,” the experts said, as they called on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the authorities in Gaza to cooperate fully with any probes.

Ireland has called for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" and the release of hostages in Gaza.

Additional reporting: IRN

Palestinians walk past a building destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Gaza City, 3-1-24. Image:Associated Press / Alamy

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Al-Aqsa Hospital Antony Blinken Deir Al Balah Doctors Without Borders Hezbollah Jordan Lebanon MSF Saudi Arabia Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus The UAE US Secretary Of State United Nations Human Rights Council Wissam Al Tawil World Health Organization

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