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Blinken in Israel to Push for Extension of Truce Ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Tel Aviv in an effort to persuade Israel to extend the ongoing humanitarian truce in Gaza which is set to expire on Thursday.

The original four-day truce in Gaza which was first implemented on November 24 and extended for two more days on Tuesday, will expire at 7 a.m. local time on Thursday, (at about 10.20 a.m. IST).

Blinken’s trip comes as Israel is stern that the truce will not be extended as there were reports of 10-month-old-child Kfir Bibas who was kidnapped on October 7 was killed along with his four-year-old brother and mother.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military had said that it was assessing the reports.

The Israel war cabinet that met on Wednesday night was also not keen to extend the ceasefire.

Before he arrived in Israel on Wednesday night, Blinken had said he will be focused on extending the pause in fighting in Gaza “so that we continue to get more hostages out and more humanitarian assistance in”, CNN reported

“We’d like to see the pause extended because what it has enabled, first and foremost is hostages being released and being united with their families,” he said.

“It’s also enabled us to surge humanitarian assistance into the people of Gaza who so desperately need it.

“So, its continuation, by definition means that more hostages would be coming home, more assistance would be getting in,” the top US diplomat added.

Blinken said that he also believes that an extension of the pause is something Israel wants because “they’re also intensely focused on bringing people home”.

The Secretary of State said he plans to discuss the issue in his meetings with Israeli officials in the coming days.

“We’ll discuss with Israel how it can achieve its objective of ensuring that the terrorist attacks of October 7 never happen again, while sustaining and increasing humanitarian assistance and minimizing further suffering and casualties among Palestinian civilians,” CNN quoted Blinken as saying.

On Thursday morning, Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades said its fighters should remain in the high-combat readiness position unless an official statement is issued confirming the extension of the truce.

Also in a separate statement, Hamas blamed Israel for an impasse in the ceasefire extension talks.

The Palestinian militant group said Israel had refused an offer to extend the truce in exchange for receiving seven detained women and children and the bodies of three deceased women or children who Hamas claim were killed by Israeli bombardment.

But on a positive note, Qatar — a key mediator in the ceasefire talks — is “very optimistic” an extension will be announced, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Doha told CNN late Wednesday night.

However, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Herzi Halevi said the military is prepared for the next stage of the war in Gaza when the truce ends .

On Wednesday — the sixth day of the truce — 16 more hostages were released from Gaza, comprising 10 Israelis, four Thai nationals and two Israeli-Russians.

Also in the day, 30 Palestinians were also freed from Israeli jails.

Since the start of the pause, 210 Palestinians, 68 Israelis, and 20 foreign nationals have reportedly been released.

With several countries including Qatar, Egypt and the US putting preasure on Israel for a truce, it is yet to be seen whether the Jewish nation will abide to the request.

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