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US SECRETARY OF STATE, BLINKEN LEAVES TO MIDDLE EAST TO PRESS FOR A CEASEFIRE

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has kicked off another Mideast crisis tour on Monday in a bid to secure a new truce in the Israel-Hamas war, as southern Gaza saw no let-up in fighting.

On his fifth trip to the region since Hamas’s October 7 attack that triggered the war, Blinken is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Qatar.

Ahead of the trip he stressed the need for “urgently addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza”, after aid groups have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the devastating impact on the besieged territory of nearly five months of war.

“The situation is indescribable,” said Said Hamouda, a Palestinian who fled his home in the Gaza Strip to the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt.

Dubbed a “pressure cooker of despair” by the United Nations, Rafah now hosts more than half of Gaza’s 2.4 million people, displaced due to Israel’s assault.

“Whether you have a million dollars or a hundred you are in the same situation,” Hamouda said.

ALSO READ: EUROPEAN UNION CONCERNED OVER REPORTS OF ISRAEL’S INTENTION TO TARGET RAFAH AT GAZA’S BORDER.

Over the weekend, Israel pressed further south towards the teeming border city, warning its ground forces could advance on Rafah as part of its campaign to eradicate Hamas.

On Sunday, the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said at least 127 people were killed in Israeli strikes in the previous 24 hours in the besieged territory.

The Hamas government media office said a Rafah kindergarten where families were sheltering was hit.

AFP

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