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America’s Top Diplomat Calls for Protecting Civilians as Israel Readies an Expected Assault on Gaza

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Saturday for protecting civilians in the Gaza Strip and Israel as he intensified his diplomatic outreach across the Middle East and beyond to rally an international response to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from expanding. Blinken met with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh before stopping in the United Arab Emirates as he sought ways to help civilians trapped in between the fighting and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. He also called his Chinese counterpart as Palestinians struggled to flee from areas of Gaza targeted by the Israeli military before an expected land offensive.

His efforts reflect the international concern about the number of civilians at risk and the potential ramifications of a prolonged war as Israel told Gaza residents to move south and Hamas urged people to remain in their homes. The Biden administration — from President Joe Biden to his Pentagon chief and top diplomat during their recent Mideast stops — has not publicly urged Israel to restrain its response after the Hamas attack a week ago, but has emphasized the country’s commitment to following the rules of war.

In visits with Saudi and UAE leaders, Blinken cited the need for humanitarian assistance and safe passage from those who wish to leave Gaza as he spoke to Arab audiences from their home turf, where his hosts put that issue at the top of their concerns.

Source: AP News

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