US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Palestinians should not be pressured to leave Gaza, and that they should be allowed to return to their homes as soon as conditions allow.
Blinken condemned the statements made by a number of Israeli ministers who called for the settlement of Palestinians in other places.
The US Secretary visited Qatar as part of his most recent tour in the Middle East.
Blinken’s statements come after reports of the killing of up to 70 people in the Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip.
Video footage from Jabalia camp showed bodies lying under the rubble of a destroyed building, many of them women and children.
An IDF spokesman told the BBC that it “moved against a military target during the raid” and that it was “not aware of the number of casualties mentioned.”
He added that in response to the attacks of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas”, which he described as “brutal,” the army is working to dismantle the movement’s military and administrative capabilities.
He added that it “follows international law and takes available measures to mitigate the harm that may be caused to civilians.”
More than 60 people were killed on Sunday in the city of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip.
The Jabalia refugee camp has also been bombed several times since the start of the war, following the unprecedented attack carried out by the movement on southern Israel on October 7th.
The Hamas attack resulted in the killing of approximately 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians, and the holding of approximately 240 hostages.
The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip announced that about 22,000 Palestinians were killed as a result of the military operations launched by Israel in the Strip. The Ministry reported that 113 people were killed in the Israeli bombing during the past 24 hours.
The US Secretary of State said on Sunday that “the Palestinians should be able to return to their homes as soon as conditions permit,” adding that “they cannot and should not be pressured to leave Gaza.”
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right extremist, called on the Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip to make way for the Israelis, who will “plant the desert.”
Earlier, Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, an extreme right-wing politician, called for “encouraging the residents of Gaza to emigrate” as a “solution” to the crisis.
The official position of the Israeli government embraces the possibility of the residents of the Gaza Strip eventually returning to their homes. However, he did not specify how and when this would be possible.
Meanwhile, the situation in the Gaza Strip continues to deteriorate. Health care officials warn that medical facilities, including hospitals, are no longer safe.
Three medical relief organizations announced the departure of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, in the center of the Gaza Strip, after Israel issued orders to evacuate it.
Gemma Connell, a representative of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the BBC that they were “deeply concerned by these developments.”
The UN official added, saying: “This means that this hospital, which was already crowded with patients exceeding its capacity, is now definitely without the necessary reinforcements to support it while dealing with the infected, whose numbers are constantly increasing.”
Tedros Adhanom, Director of the World Health Organization, said that more than 600 patients and medical personnel were forced to evacuate the hospital, withdrawing what the hospital director said.
Adhanom added, in a tweet on the X website (formerly Twitter), that “their whereabouts are currently unknown.”
The US Secretary of State’s current tour of the Middle East coincides with an escalation in tensions in the region and looming fears about the possibility of expanding the scope of the Gaza war.
Saleh Al-Arouri, deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, and six others, including two leaders of the Al-Qassam Brigades, its military arm, and four of its members, were assassinated south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, last Tuesday in a bombing, believed to be Israeli.
Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah, described Al-Arouri’s assassination as a “blatant Israeli aggression” that will not go unpunished.
Hezbollah fired missiles towards Israel, last Saturday, as part of what it described as an “initial response” to Al-Arouri’s assassination.
The US Secretary of State commented on Al-Arouri’s killing, saying, “It is a moment of deep tension in the region amid a conflict that could easily expand, causing more insecurity as well as more suffering.”
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani said that Al-Arouri’s killing affected “the complex operation.”
Blinken also said that the killing of journalist Hamza al-Dahdouh, the son of Wael al-Dahdouh, director of the Al Jazeera News Network’s Gaza office, in an Israeli raid in the southern Gaza Strip is a “tragedy beyond imagination.”
He added: “So far, a very large number of innocent Palestinian men, women and children have been killed in the war.”
The post first appeared on www.bbc.com