Blinken in Israel for talks to support ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Tuesday to consolidate the ceasefire between the Jewish state and Hamas which was reached after an 11-day bloodshed in an around the Gaza Strip.

He is due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, reports dpa news agency.

Before he left for Israel, Blinken tweeted late Monday night: “Even as we were working with the parties and partners to help reach a ceasefire, we were also focused on the road ahead, including steps we could take to build a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”

During the Middle East trip, which lasts until Thursday, he also plans to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah II.

The State Department said before Blinken set off that the goal of the trip was to help cement the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement came into effect on May 21 at 2 a.m. between Israel and Hamas.

The 11-day clashes, the worst since 2014, have left at least 253 Palestinians dead, including 66 children, 39 women and 17 elderly people, while 1,948 others were injured.

On the Israeli side, there were 12 fatalities and 300 injuries.