Amid intensifying conflict between Israel and Palestine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed his concerns over the ongoing violence.
According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken and Netanyahu discussed the ongoing violence in Jerusalem and the Secretary reiterated his call on all parties to de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.
The US Secretary expressed his concerns regarding the barrage of rocket attacks on Israel, his condolences for the lives lost as a result, and the US’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
Blinken emphasised the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy. Both the leaders acknowledged the steadfast partnership between the US and Israel and committed to working together on the challenges ahead.
The ongoing violence between Israel and Palestine marks a dramatic escalation of tensions linked to the potential eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem by Israeli settlers and access to one of the most sacred sites in the city, which is a key hub for Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
Gaza’s ministry of health said the overall death toll since the latest offensive began stood at 56, including 14 children. More than 300 others have been wounded, reported Al Jazeera.
Six Israelis, including one child, have also been killed. The Israeli army said that about 1,500 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel and they have added reinforcements near the enclave’s eastern lands.
Tensions between Israel and Palestine are rapidly rising with the ramping up of rocket attacks and the United Nations has warned that the conflict is moving towards a ‘full-scale war’.
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, called on both sides to de-escalate tensions the day before.
“Stop the fire immediately. We are escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people. The UN is working with all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he tweeted.
Over 70 Palestinians in total are set to be evicted from Sheikh Jarrah in the coming weeks to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis. The Palestinians live in houses built on land that courts have ruled were owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel in 1948.