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Blinken arrives in Israel amid talks over possible cease-fire in Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Wednesday to meet top Israeli officials over developments of Israel's ongoing offensive against Gaza, and a possible cease-fire deal.

Blinken's agenda in Israel includes the discussion over the "ongoing hostage negotiations, Israel's war in Gaza and the worsening humanitarian crisis, (and) the post-war planning," according to the Haaretz daily.

A previous readout by the US Department of State said Blinken is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and President Isaac Herzog.

Blinken has so far visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar as part of his current tour in the region, and is also scheduled to visit Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

It is his sixth visit to Israel since Oct. 7, as part of his fifth tour in the region, aimed at finding a solution to the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

Before his arrival to Israel, the Hamas group said it had delivered its response to Egypt and Qatar regarding the "framework agreement" for a proposed prisoner swap deal and cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is believed to be still holding around 136 Israelis.

Israel has launched a deadly offensive on Gaza following an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas, killing at least 27,585 Palestinians and injuring 66,978 others, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.


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