WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make his fifth trip to the Middle East this week since the war between Israel and Hamas began, with the hopes of securing the release of all remaining hostages held in Gaza, the State Department said.
“The Secretary will continue diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that secures the release of all remaining hostages and includes a humanitarian pause that will allow for sustained, increased delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
The top U.S. diplomat will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank for discussions with regional leaders set to last through Thursday.
“He will continue work to prevent the spread of the conflict, while reaffirming that the United States will take appropriate steps to defend its personnel and the right to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” Miller said. “The Secretary will also continue discussions with partners on how to establish a more integrated, peaceful region that includes lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
More than 27,131 people have been killed and 66,287 others have been wounded by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war on Oct. 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel estimates Hamas killed around 1,200 people, injured 6,900 others and kidnapped scores more.
In November, Hamas released 105 of the roughly 240 people taken hostage in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners during a weeklong pause in hostilities.
Blinken’s trip comes as Washington seeks to deter a wider regional conflict with Iran-backed proxies. Tehran has armed, trained and funded the militia groups that have targeted American troops and commercial shipping in the Middle East, Western officials say.
The U.S. on Friday carried out a series of airstrikes against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and affiliated militias in Syria and Iraq, in retaliation to a drone strike in Jordan that killed three American soldiers and injured at least 40 more service members.
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Author: Tanya Noury