Gaza War: International diplomats convene to prevent escalation

International diplomats gathered to strategize on averting further escalation and reducing the staggering human toll.

Blinken

Top international diplomats convened to discuss strategies on preventing the escalation of the Gaza war beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories. It has been three months since the conflict began, and both Israeli and Palestinian authorities have reported numerous military and civilian casualties.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, embarked on separate trips to the region with the aim of preventing the war from spreading into Lebanon, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Red Sea shipping lanes.

The Lebanese border frequently experiences exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah, while the West Bank remains tense with anger. Additionally, the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen continue to target Red Sea shipping until Israel ceases its bombardment of Gaza.

Blinken visited Amman, Jordan, following his stops in Turkey and Greece, while Borrell conducted a trip to Lebanon from January 5-7. Both diplomats emphasized their commitment to mitigating the spillover effects of the conflict.

“We are deeply focused on preventing the escalation of this conflict,” stated Blinken before departing from Chania, Greece, on his fourth trip to the region since the initial attack by Hamas on October 7.

On the eve of the three-month anniversary, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesperson, provided an update. In response to mounting international pressure regarding the high civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel has recently signaled a reduction in forces.

Hagari announced that Israeli forces had successfully dismantled the “military framework” of Hamas in northern Gaza and eliminated approximately 8,000 militants in that area. He added, “We are now focused on dismantling Hamas in the center and south of the Gaza strip.”

Hagari further stated, “The fighting will continue throughout 2024. We are following a plan to achieve the goals of this war: dismantling Hamas in the north and south.”

Israel’s airstrikes and incursions into Gaza commenced after Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 individuals and the abduction of 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

It is believed that more than 100 hostages are still being held by Hamas.

According to Palestinian health officials, Israel’s offensive, aimed at eradicating Hamas, has claimed the lives of 22,722 Palestinians and caused immense devastation in the small enclave of Gaza.

The casualty figures provided by the Palestinian health ministry do not distinguish between fighters and civilians. However, the ministry has reported that 70% of those killed in Gaza are women and individuals under the age of 18.

The conflict has displaced the majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million population, leaving many homes and civilian infrastructure in ruins and exacerbating severe shortages of food, water, and medicine.

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