Blinken says cost of conflict on children far too high


The cost of war on Gaza's civilians is "far too high", US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said, Paralel.Az reports citing BBC.

Mr Blinken said Israel needed to remove barriers so more essential aid could be allowed into Gaza.

But he said Israel faced a huge challenge in fighting an enemy in Hamas which had embedded itself within the civilian population.

Mr Blinken was speaking after meeting Israeli leaders on his fourth trip to the country since the conflict began.

America's top diplomat told a news conference in Tel Aviv that leaders in the region shared US concerns about the "dire humanitarian situation" on the ground.

Mr Blinken's meetings in Israel on Tuesday were not entirely without tangible results. He announced that the US and Israel agreed on a plan for the UN to conduct an "assessment mission" that would be the first step toward allowing Palestinians to return to the areas of northern Gaza that have been devastated by the Israeli offensive.

Even here, however, Mr Blinken warned that their return would not happen "overnight". Too much has to be done to clear the area of unexploded ordinance and booby traps, as well as to ensure supporting infrastructure is in place.

Mr Blinken also told the press conference that South African claims that Israel was committing genocide, filed at the International Court of Justice, were "meritless".

But he said: "The daily toll on civilians in Gaza, particularly on children, is far too high."

He cited UN figures that 90% of the population continued to face severe food insecurity, adding: "For children, the effects of long periods without sufficient food can have lifelong consequences."

"More food, more water, more medicine, other essential goods need to get into Gaza. And then once they're in Gaza, they need to get more effectively to the people who need them."