Israel is facing pressure to prevent civilian casualties during its ongoing military operations in Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region to help reduce the conflict’s risks.
On his visit, Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called for an immediate ceasefire. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on no ceasefire until Hamas released hostages it was holding. This has hit a communication block out.
Israel reported a significant military presence around Gaza City, and there were reports of heavy bombardment. Communication and internet services were also disrupted. Borders were also forced shut down, preventing aid to reach the Palestinians.
The U.S. took diplomatic steps to address the situation. U.S. CIA Director William Burns was scheduled to visit Israel to discuss the conflict and intelligence. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself while emphasizing the importance of protecting civilians and providing humanitarian assistance.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris planned to discuss the conflict with foreign leaders and increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. Jordan’s air force provided medical aid to a field hospital in Gaza.
In addition, Lebanon became involved in the conflict following an Israeli strike that killed three children and their grandmother. Tensions rose as Hezbollah, a Lebanese group, fired rockets into Israel in response.
Efforts for a ceasefire continued as foreign ministers from several countries urged Israel to agree to one. Pope Francis also called for peace. Blinken advocated for localized pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid and people to leave Gaza.
On the diplomatic front, Blinken faced challenges in Turkey due to its anger over the conflict. Turkey, a NATO member, had strained relations with Israel and sought to address the situation.
The United Nations (UN) reported that 88 staff members from its agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) have lost their lives in Gaza since October 7, making this conflict the deadliest in terms of UN casualties.
In a statement released on Sunday, the UN officially acknowledged these fatalities, highlighting that this marks the “largest number of United Nations personnel ever recorded as casualties in a single conflict.” Additionally, in a rare joint statement, in collaboration with various non-UN humanitarian organizations, they recognized that “numerous aid workers,” including UN staff, have tragically perished during this crisis.
Diplomatic efforts to ease the conflict, and the involvement of various countries and groups in the region. According to the Gaza health ministry, the conflict has resulted in a significant loss of life, with over 9,480 Gazans, including many women and children, losing their lives due to Israeli airstrikes and an intensifying ground campaign.