Hamas chief urges Blinken to focus on ending Israeli ‘aggression’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called on US secretary of state Antony Blinken to use his current Middle East tour to end Israel’s “aggression” as war rages in Gaza.
The top US diplomat arrived in Turkey on Friday at the start of a trip that includes planned visits to Israel and the occupied West Bank as well as several Gulf states.
US officials have said that Blinken, in his fourth regional tour since fighting erupted with Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel, would focus on getting more aid into the besieged Gaza Strip, ruled by the Palestinian militant group.
In a video message posted late Friday on Hamas’s social media channels, Haniyeh said he hoped Blinken had “learned the lessons of the last three months” during which Israel has relentlessly bombarded Gaza in an effort to destroy the Islamist group.
US support for Israel’s military campaign “has caused unprecedented massacres and war crimes against our people in Gaza”, Haniyeh said.
“We… hope that he will be more focused this time on ending the aggression” as well as “the occupation of all Palestinian lands”, the Qatar-based Hamas chief added.
Haniyeh also urged regional leaders due to meet Blinken to tell him that stability in the Middle East was “closely linked to our Palestinian cause”.
The United States is Israel’s chief military and political backer and has repeatedly refused to support calls for a ceasefire.
However, Washington has lent its support to humanitarian pauses and backed a UN Security Council resolution demanding more aid be let into Gaza.
The war began with an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an tally based on official figures.
Israel responded by bombarding the territory and sending in ground forces, killing at least 22,722 people, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

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