Hamas chief calls on Blinken to focus on ending Israel war on Gaza in current ME tour

AFP , Saturday 6 Jan 2024

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use his current Middle East tour to end Israel's "aggression" as war rages in Gaza.

Ismail Haniyeh
File Photo: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh holds a press conference. AFP


The top US diplomat arrived in Turkey on Friday at the start of a trip that includes planned visits to Israel and the occupied West Bank as well as several Gulf states.

US officials have said that Blinken, in his fourth regional tour since the Israeli war on Gaza erupted on October 7, would focus on getting more aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

In a video message posted late Friday on Hamas's social media channels, Haniyeh, speaking from Qatar, said he hoped Blinken had "learned the lessons of the last three months" during which Israel has bombarded Gaza.

US "blind support" for Israel's military campaign "has caused unprecedented massacres and war crimes against our people in Gaza", Haniyeh said.

"We... hope that he will be more focused this time on ending the aggression" as well as "the occupation of all Palestinian lands," the Hamas chief added.

Haniyeh also urged regional leaders due to meet Blinken to tell him that stability in the Middle East was "closely linked to our Palestinian cause, which can't be overlooked".

The United States is Israel's chief military and political backer and has repeatedly refused to support calls for a ceasefire and blocked all UN resolutions in this regard.

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