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Senior Hamas official urges U.S. to pressure Israel to end Gaza war ahead of Blinken’s visit

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A senior Hamas official called on the United States on Monday to pressure Israel to end the war in Gaza, coinciding with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to the region to push for ceasefire efforts.

Blinken is set to visit Egypt and Israel on Monday, aiming to ensure the conflict does not spread into Lebanon.

“We call upon the U.S. administration to put pressure on the occupation to stop the war on Gaza, and the Hamas movement is ready to deal positively with any initiative that secures an end to the war,” said senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri.

This marks Blinken’s eighth visit to the region since Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, sparking the deadliest episode in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Blinken will also travel to Jordan and Qatar this week.

In Cairo, he will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before heading to Israel for discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, according to a State Department schedule.

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On Monday, Palestinian residents reported that Israeli tanks were attempting to advance deeper towards the north, specifically targeting Shaboura, a densely populated neighborhood known as a militant stronghold.

Israeli tank forces have seized Gaza’s entire border strip with Egypt running through Rafah to the Mediterranean coast and invaded several districts of the city, prompting around one million displaced people who had been sheltering in Rafah to flee elsewhere.

Blinken’s visit follows U.S. President Joe Biden’s May 31 proposal for a three-phase ceasefire plan from Israel, which envisions a permanent end to hostilities, the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and the reconstruction of Gaza.

The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people and the capture of around 250 hostages, according to Israeli reports.

In retaliation, Israel launched an assault on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to a Sunday update from the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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