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Blinken seeks to avert wider war, Israel says it is not fighting a single enemy

1 min

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Monday before heading on to Israel after warning that the Gaza war could spread across the region without concerted peace efforts.

Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, stand near the border with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Monday before heading on to Israel after warning that the Gaza war could spread across the region without concerted peace efforts.

Blinken started a five-day Middle East diplomatic effort in Jordan and Qatar on Sunday, seeking to avert a wider war in the region. He is also due to visit the West Bank and Egypt this week.

"This is a moment of profound tension for the region. This is a conflict that could easily metastasize, causing even more insecurity and suffering," Blinken told a press conference in Doha before heading to Abu Dhabi.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the intensity of the offensive in Gaza signalled his country's determination to destroy the militant group Hamas that rules the enclave and deter other potential Iran-backed adversaries, including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"My basic view: We are fighting an axis, not a single enemy," Gallant told the Wall Street Journal. "Iran is building up military power around Israel in order to use it."

Israel and Hezbollah often trade fire across the Lebanese border and the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen seem determined to continue attacks on Red Sea shipping until Israel stops bombarding Palestinians in Gaza.

Blinken said he would tell Israeli officials it is imperative they do more to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and that Palestinian civilians must be allowed to return home and not be pressed to leave Gaza.

Jordan's King Abdullah urged Blinken to use Washington's influence over Israel to press it for an immediate ceasefire and warned of the "catastrophic repercussions" of Israel's continued military campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting.

Despite global concern over the death and destruction in Gaza and widespread calls for a ceasefire, Israeli public opinion remains firmly behind the operation, although support for Netanyahu has fallen sharply.

Reporting by Simon Lewis, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Emily Rose

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