Blinken says he will press Netanyahu on Gaza aid measures

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 11:38 AM

By Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis

AMMAN (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that he will discuss with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu measures that Israel still needs to take to increase the flow of aid into Gaza, as he holds meetings in the country on Wednesday.

Blinken spoke to reporters at a warehouse of the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization where aid shipments from U.S.-based charities are gathered. He said while there were some improvements in the humanitarian aid situation in the densely populated enclave, much more needed to be done to ensure assistance reaches people in a sustained manner.

“I’m now able to go to Israel tomorrow and go over with the Israeli government the things that still need to be done if the test is going to be met of making sure that people have what they need,” Blinken said.

“And I’ll be doing that tomorrow directly with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the Israeli government,” he said.

Blinken’s check-in with Netanyahu on aid will take place about a month after U.S. President Joe Biden issued a stark warning to Netanyahu, saying Washington’s policy could shift if Israel fails to take steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers.

A spiraling humanitarian crisis has prompted calls from Israel’s Western and Arab partners to do more to facilitate the entry of aid to the enclave, where most people are homeless, many face famine, and where civilian infrastructure is devastated and disease widespread.

The top U.S. diplomat is on a tour of the Middle East, his seventh since the region plunged into conflict on Oct. 7 when Palestinian Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 250 others, according to Israeli tallies.

In response, Israel has launched a relentless assault on Gaza, killing more than 34,000 Palestinians, local health authorities tsay, in a bombardment that has reduced the enclave to a wasteland. More than one million people risk famine, the United Nations warns, after six months of war.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Doina Chiacu and Simon Lewis; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Deepa Babington)