US, Europe launch new diplomatic effort to ease Gaza war

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Europe’s top diplomat Josep Borrell initiated a fresh diplomatic effort Friday to mitigate the Gaza war’s expansion into the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Lebanon, and Red Sea shipping routes, Reuters reported.

The Middle East visits, which follow three months after Hamas militants in Gaza launched attacks on Israel, aim to address the crisis that has ravaged Gaza, displacing 90% of its residents and causing 22,600 deaths, Palestinian authorities report as quoted by Reuters.

Israel, countering with the deaths of 1,200 in the Oct. 7 Hamas assault, claims to have eliminated 8,000 militants and is under international pressure to reduce civilian casualties with a more strategic approach.

However, Gazans report intensified overnight bombardment by Israeli aircraft and tanks in densely populated areas of Al-Maghazi, Al-Bureij, and Al-Nusseirat in central Gaza. Palestinian officials earlier noted 162 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Furthermore, in Gaza’s south, where many have relocated following Israeli alerts, at least 22 fatalities were reported from Israeli strikes, including a family house in Khan Younis, according to Palestinian authorities. They also reported casualties from strikes in Al-Nusseirat and Deir Al-Balah.

Two additional deaths and several injuries occurred in central Gaza after nightfall, locals said, attributing them to recent Israeli strikes.

Abdel Razek Abu Sinjar, mourning his family killed in a Rafah strike, criticized the Israeli government’s actions. In northern Gaza’s Jabalia, residents navigated destroyed, debris-laden streets, with escalating concerns over hunger and disease.

Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, emphasized Friday the extraordinary challenges faced by humanitarian workers in Gaza. According to a United Nations spokesperson, the situation has tasked them with aiding over two million people.

Stephanie Tremblay, the associate spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, highlighted the dire scarcity of essential supplies in Gaza. “Vital resources necessary for the survival of people are almost non-existent,” she stated.

Despite these hardships, the UN and its partners are striving to address the overwhelming needs. Tremblay noted that the current relief efforts are only meeting a small portion of the requirements. Food security remains a critical concern, with aid workers persistently trying to assist, yet hindered by security issues and restricted movement.