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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Hopes loom large for peace as Blinken reaches Egypt

Following his meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, Blinken swiftly departed for Qatar, with plans to consult with key mediators involved in the Gaza conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a 48-hour, four-nation shuttle diplomacy effort aimed at brokering a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. During this diplomatic whirlwind, Blinken met with Egypt’s president on Tuesday, following earlier discussions in Saudi Arabia and later scheduled talks in Qatar. The primary focus of these diplomatic efforts is to halt the violence in Gaza, particularly in light of Israel’s continued military actions in the southern part of the enclave.

Israel reported that its forces had engaged in clashes with Palestinian gunmen across Gaza over the past 24 hours, concentrating their efforts on Khan Younis in the south. Additionally, there were warnings of a potential assault on a nearby border town where many displaced individuals have sought refuge.

Blinken’s visit to Egypt marks his first trip to the region since the United States facilitated an initial offer for an extended ceasefire in collaboration with Israeli authorities. This proposal, conveyed by Qatar and Egypt to Hamas last week, is contingent upon assurances from Israel regarding withdrawal and the release of remaining hostages held by Hamas fighters since an attack on October 7 that sparked the conflict.

No mercy for Civilians 

Following his meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, Blinken swiftly departed for Qatar, with plans to consult with key mediators involved in the Gaza conflict. The urgency of the situation is underscored by the mounting death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with casualties continuing to rise amidst relentless Israeli bombardment. Palestinians, already reeling from nearly four months of conflict, face dire circumstances exacerbated by ongoing military operations targeting civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and residential areas.

According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, the death toll from the conflict over the past four months has risen to 27,585 Palestinians. Over the last day, 107 bodies were brought to hospitals. The ministry’s count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, but it emphasizes that a significant majority of the deceased are women and children

In particular, the city of Khan Younis remains a focal point of Israeli military action, with reports of sustained aerial and tank bombardment causing further devastation and loss of life. The plight of displaced individuals, forced to seek refuge in increasingly precarious locations, highlights the urgent need for a ceasefire and humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

More to read:US ‘threatens peace’ in the Middle East – Russia

Efforts to mediate a ceasefire and facilitate humanitarian relief are ongoing, with Egypt and Qatar playing crucial roles in brokering potential agreements between Israel and Hamas. However, the complexity of the situation and the entrenched positions of the parties involved present significant challenges to achieving a sustainable resolution to the conflict.