Israel Latest: Blinken Works on Gaza Aid as Biden Set to Visit

President Joe Biden is set to travel to Israel in a show of solidarity for the US ally after it was attacked by Hamas, while his administration’s top diplomat is working on a plan to get aid to Gaza without it falling into the hands of the militant group.

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden is set to travel to Israel in a show of solidarity for the US ally after it was attacked by Hamas, while his administration’s top diplomat is working on a plan to get aid to Gaza without it falling into the hands of the militant group.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Biden would discuss the idea when he arrives in Israel on Wednesday, after holding about nine hours of talks with Israeli officials to help pave the way for the president’s trip. Israel’s defense minister meanwhile told Washington to expect a “long war” against the militant group.

Israel said it’s keeping open an internal corridor for evacuation of the northern Gaza Strip, with more than 600,000 people having already left for the south. The Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union — have killed at least 1,400 Israelis. Palestinian officials say Israel airstrikes have killed more than 2,700 people in Gaza. 

For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

(All timestamps are Israeli time)

US Commander Arrives in Israel (6:15 a.m.)

US Central Command head, General Michael Kurilla, has arrived in Tel Aviv to conduct high-level meetings with Israel’s military leadership, according to a statement from the command. 

Kurilla is looking to gain a clear understanding of Israel’s defense requirements and outline US efforts to avoid an expansion of the conflict, it said.

US and Israel to Develop Gaza Aid Plan (4:17 a.m)

Blinken offered few details except to say that the US and Israel would work on a way to get aid to civilians and create areas where people could get out of harm’s way.

“If Hamas in any way blocks humanitarian assistance from reaching civilians, including by seizing the aid itself, we’ll be the first to condemn it,” Blinken said in a brief statement in Tel Aviv. “And we will work to prevent it from happening again.”

Read: US and Israel to Develop Plan to Get Aid to Gaza, Blinken Says

Biden Set to Visit Israel on Wednesday (3:17 a.m.)

Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday, in a visit designed to signal US solidarity with its closest Middle East ally and help prevent the conflict from engulfing the region. Blinken confirmed the trip in Tel Aviv, saying: “He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world.”

Biden, who was invited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to meet with the Israeli leader to discuss US assistance ahead of expected ground operations in Gaza. Spokespeople for the White House declined to comment.

Read: Biden Set to Visit Israel in Show of Support After Hamas Attack

Biden, Iraq PM Discussed Preventing Expansion (3:10 a.m.)

Biden and Iraq Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani held a call where they discussed ongoing efforts to prevent an expansion of the conflict, according to a readout from the White House. They also discussed the importance of addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 

Ambassador to US Says Gaza Reoccupation Is Not a Goal (2 a.m.)

Israel’s ambassador to the US declined to give a timetable for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, saying only that his country does not seek to reoccupy the territory in the wake of the deadly assault by Hamas.

“I’m not going to put a timetable on the ground operation,” Michael Herzog said on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” Monday evening. “We are preparing it, everybody knows that it’s in the works. And when it comes, it comes.”

Biden Speaks with Scholz, Sisi (11:30 p.m.)

Biden held calls with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ahead of the German leader’s planned trip to Egypt and Israel.

Administration officials have pushed Egypt to help facilitate safe passage for Americans currently in Gaza, as well as food and medicine for civilians inside the territory.

Turkey Talks With Hamas Over Prisoners (10:15 p.m.)

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held a phone call with Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’s political bureau, to discuss developments in the conflict and the possibility of releasing civilians, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Hamas Says Up to 250 Captives Held in Gaza (10:05 p.m.)

Hamas and other groups may be holding as many as 250 prisoners in Gaza, a spokesman for the organization’s armed wing said on Al Jazeera TV. Hamas itself has about 200 captives including people from “different nationalities,” said the spokesman, Abu Ubeida. He said about 22 prisoners have been killed during Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Netanyahu, Blinken Take Shelter as Sirens Sound in Tel Aviv (8:48 p.m.)

Netanyahu and Blinken briefly took shelter when sirens sounded in Tel Aviv to warn of a rocket attack, interrupting their meeting with senior Israeli officials. “They sheltered in a bunker for five minutes,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. 

Israel’s Gallant Warns Blinken to Brace for ‘Long War’ (8:30 p.m.) 

Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant told Blinken that Israeli forces were preparing for a long and costly war but that Israel would win.

“This will be a long war, the price will be high,” Gallant told Blinken, who was visiting Tel Aviv for the second time on an extended trip through the region. “But we are going to win for Israel and the Jewish people, and for the values that both countries believe in.”

Gaza Close to ‘Breaking Point,’ EU Official Says (7:30 p.m.)

The humanitarian situation is “about to reach breaking point” in Gaza, warned the EU’s commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic. 

Lenarcic said the EU is launching an air bridge operation, with the first two flights due this week. He called for the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt to be opened immediately, and said relief workers must be allowed to their jobs.

Putin Holds Calls With Netanyahu, Regional Leaders (6:55 p.m.)

Putin held a call with four Middle Eastern leaders — the presidents of Egypt, Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority — to discuss the Israel-Hamas war, the Kremlin said.

“There was a unanimous opinion on the need for an urgent cease-fire and the establishment of a humanitarian truce,” the Kremlin said in the statement. Russia said it’s ready to coordinate efforts to stop the hostilities. Putin held a separate phone call with Netanyahu and communicated details of the earlier conversations.

1,200 Palestinians Believed Trapped Under Gaza Rubble (6:00 p.m.)

Gaza’s Health Ministry says at least 1,200 Palestinians have been trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

“We hope some of them may still be alive,” ministry spokesman Asjraf Al-Qidra told reporters, noting that those trapped include about 500 children. He said the death toll, which stands at 2,778, covers only those who arrived at hospitals and were identified by families. About 9,940 Palestinians have been wounded.

Netanyahu Warns Against Opening New Fighting Fronts (4:25 p.m.)

“Don’t test us in the north,” Netanyahu said in a speech to parliament, a warning to Iran and the militant group Hezbollah to not open a new fighting front along the border with Lebanon. 

Earlier, Israel’s army said it’s evacuating residents close to the border with Lebanon to allow for potential military action. The evacuation of Israelis living within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of the border aims to reduce the risks and allow more freedom for a potential operation against Hezbollah, said Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari.


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