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US Secretary of State urges Israel to halt settler violence in West Bank

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Israel to take immediate action to curb the violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Blinken emphasized the pressing need to de-escalate tensions in the region, particularly addressing the surge in extremist settler violence.

The call took place during a telephone conversation between Blinken and Benny Gantz, a centrist opposition leader who joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet following the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel. The State Department, in a statement on Thursday, highlighted Blinken’s focus on de-escalation efforts and his discussions with Gantz on expediting humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza, securing the release of captives held by Hamas, and preventing the conflict from spreading further.

Israeli settler violence has seen a significant rise since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, escalating from an average of three incidents to seven per day, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA).

Simultaneously, reports indicate that Israeli forces conducted fresh raids in the occupied West Bank, with ongoing military operations around major hospitals in Gaza. Al Jazeera reported Israeli attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp, impacting residential houses and prompting residents to seek refuge at a UN shelter. The Indonesian Hospital, near the shelter, has suspended operations due to Israeli attacks, leaving staff and patients in dire need of essential supplies.

In Gaza, Israeli forces continued their occupation of al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the enclave. Despite Israeli claims of finding evidence of a Hamas command center, Hamas and hospital staff deny allegations of military operations being staged from the complex.

As tensions persist, the situation remains critical, especially for civilians caught in the crossfire.

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