US asks Israel to expedite release of remaining hostages in Gaza
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Defense Minister Yaov Gallant have discussed current initiatives to expedite the release of remaining hostages and increase humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
“Secretary Blinken and Defense Minister Gallant discussed active efforts to facilitate the release of all remaining hostages and increase levels of humanitarian assistance reaching Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” said a statement issued by State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Friday, a day after the two leaders spoke on the phone.
The top US diplomat emphasized the importance of taking precautions to prevent conflict and tension from escalating, particularly in the West Bank and Lebanon.
Reiterating that Israel "must take all possible measures" to avoid harming civilians, Blinken emphasized "the U.S. commitment to promoting tangible steps toward the realization of a future Palestinian state."
Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, killing at least 20,057 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injuring 53,320 others, according to health authorities in the enclave.
The Israeli onslaught has left Gaza in ruins with half of the coastal territory's housing stock damaged or destroyed, and nearly 2 million people displaced within the densely-populated enclave amid shortages of food and clean water.
Nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack, while more than 130 hostages remain in captivity.