Israeli Prime Minister tells US: 'Fighting in Gaza will not stop without releasing hostages'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue its attack on Gaza "with all its might" and reject any temporary ceasefire that did not include the release of more than 240 hostages held by Hamas, defying U.S. demands for a halt to fighting. Rejected.
Amid growing concerns about civilian casualties as fighting escalates, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Israel early Friday morning to urge the Israeli prime minister to request military assistance to enable aid to the region. He called for a temporary halt to the attack.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry reported Friday night that an airstrike hit an ambulance convoy outside Gaza's largest hospital. The report could not be immediately independently verified, but an Agence France-Presse reporter at the scene reported that there were several bodies next to the damaged ambulance.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that it had carried out an airstrike on an ambulance allegedly used by Hamas, adding that the attack had killed "a number of Hamas terrorists."
Blinken was in the Middle East for the second time in less than a month trying to avert regional escalation of the conflict but also to balance Washington`s strong support for Israel over the deadly Hamas attack of 7 October with growing concern about civilian casualties inflicted by Israel.
US officials have said they hope a pause in the fighting will allow humanitarian aid to reach desperate civilians in Gaza and help negotiations to free the hostages seized by Hamas during the attack. Obtaining their liberty is a key objective of the Israeli offensive. So far, four have been freed by Hamas and one rescued by Israeli forces.
Blinken told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv: “A number of legitimate questions were raised in our discussions today, including how to use any period of pause to maximise the flow of humanitarian assistance, how to connect the pause to the release of hostages, how to ensure that Hamas doesn`t use these pauses or arrangements to its own advantage.”