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US Secretary of State arrives in Israel on Middle East visit US Secretary of State arrives in Israel on Middle East visit  (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

US Secretary of State visits Middle East following ceasefire

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken begins a visit to the Middle East on Tuesday, following an Egypt-brokered truce which brought a halt to hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

By Vatican News staff reporter

It’s been just over two weeks since hostilities broke out between Israel and Hamas, which wrought death and destruction on both sides.

Touching down in Israel on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken hoped to reinforce a ceasefire brokered by Egypt.

Maintaining the ceasefire

The recent violence has devastated the Gaza Strip. It is hoped that the U.S Secretary’s mission will help speed up humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave.

US President Joe Biden said Blinken would meet "with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel's security," as well as looking to restore ties with the Palestinians.

As part of his visit, Mr Blinken was due to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Cairo and Amman, with the primary focus on maintaining the ceasefire.

Included on the Secretary of State’s agenda are talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hostilities in the region were triggered by Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and tensions with Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hamas began cross-border rocket attacks on Israel on May 10 prompting a barrage of Israeli air strikes.

The cost of conflict

At least 253 people were killed in Gaza and more than 1,900 wounded, while the Israeli military put the death toll in Israel at 13, with hundreds treated for injuries.

By the time the ceasefire was announced residential towers blocks and private houses across the Gaza Strip, were damaged or destroyed.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council issued a statement on the violence, calling for a "full adherence to the ceasefire."

 

25 May 2021, 13:03