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Blinken in Israel for talks as U.N. prepares to vote on U.S.-sponsored cease-fire resolution


Blinken on progress toward Israel-Hamas deal

Blinken says Israel-Hamas cease-fire deal is getting closer


Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday on the final stop in his sixth urgent trip to the region since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. He said he would share alternatives to Israel’s planned ground assault into the southern Gaza town of Rafah during talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s war cabinet.

“A major ground operation there would mean more civilian deaths, it would worsen the humanitarian crisis,” Blinken told journalists in Cairo on Thursday. “There is a better way to deal with the threat, the ongoing threat posed by Hamas.”

The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to vote Friday on a U.S.-sponsored resolution declaring “the imperative of an immediate and sustained cease-fire” in the war. In a statement overnight, European Union leaders called “for an immediate humanitarian pause leading to a sustainable ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

So little food has been allowed into Gaza that up to 60% of children under 5 are now malnourished, compared with fewer than 1% before the war began, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza raised the territory’s death toll Thursday to nearly 32,000 Palestinians. The ministry doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its counts but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people in the surprise Oct. 7 attack out of Gaza that triggered the war, and abducted another 250 people. Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 people hostage, as well as the remains of 30 others.

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