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ERR in Washington: US pressing Israel for Gaza humanitarian pauses

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Source: SCANPIX/AFP/JONATHAN ERNST

The United States government is trying to convince Israel to carry out humanitarian breaks during its attacks on the Gaza Strip, while at the sane time opposition to the military operation is growing among ordinary Americans, ERR's Washington correspondent Maria-Ann Rohemäe reports.

Israeli officials, however, stress that a ceasefire will not be on the table until the extremist group Hamas has released all those hostages it is still holding, following the October 7 attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made several surprise stops during his visit to the Middle East, meeting with both the Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. and the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, as well as a high-profile press conference alongside Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu last month.

The main topic of discussion with the Iraqi and Palestinian leaders has been, of course, Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip. Washington is now trying to push for humanitarian pauses, so that more aid can be delivered to civilians.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the process was an ongoing one, adding Israel has raised important questions on how humanitarian pauses might work in practice, questions which needed addressing.

"We're working very hard to make sure that the conflict in Gaza does not escalate, does not spread to other places. Whether it's here, whether it's elsewhere in the region," Blinken also said Sunday during a news conference in Baghdad.

At the same time, ERR reports a certain level of concern across the Atlantic that the current conflict could turn into a larger regional war. Israeli forces have also been conducting more raids into the West Bank, not under Hamas rule as Gaza is, but still home to some terror cells belonging to that organization.

The strife continues in Gaza, accompanied by Israeli bombardment.

Husam Zomolot, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.K., meanwhile says that Palestine's president has called for an immediate ceasefire to stop what he called Israel's brutal and murderous attack on "our civilians, our people."

"This is not a war against Hamas. It has been clear from the beginning that this is a war against our people," Zomolot went on.

However, Israel has stressed that a ceasefire will not be considered until Hamas has released all the hostages taken in the early October attack.

Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the US, says Gaza is "the biggest terror complex in the world," with tens of thousands of fighters and rockets, among other weaponry — and 310 miles (500 kilometers) of underground tunnels.

"This is what we're up against. And we have to uproot it, because if we do not, they will strike again and again," Herzog told CBS's "Face the Nation," in an interview aired Sunday.

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters also took to the streets in Washington and other U.S. cities over the weekend, calling for the federal government to support a ceasefire taking place.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: ERR Washington correspondent Maria-Ann Rohemäe, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CBS Face the Nation, Times of Israel, The Guardian.

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