US urges Israel to act swiftly against settler violence in West Banktext_fields
Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attending an Asia-Pacific summit in San Francisco, pressed Israel to take immediate action to halt settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Blinken emphasised this urgency during a phone call with Benny Gantz, an opposition leader who recently joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wartime cabinet.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller conveyed Blinken's urgent plea, stressing the necessity for affirmative measures to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank. The focus was on addressing the escalating levels of extremist settler violence, a growing concern in the region, reported AFP.
Additionally, Blinken discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts aimed at securing the release of hostages captured during a significant incursion into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7. Approximately 240 individuals were reportedly taken captive during these attacks, which resulted in the loss of approximately 1,200 lives, predominantly civilians.
Amid these developments, Palestinian authorities reported that Israel's subsequent bombardment and ground offensive had resulted in the deaths of over 11,500 people, including a significant number of civilians, including over 4,000 children.
The West Bank, under Israeli occupation with limited Palestinian Authority autonomy, has witnessed a surge in harassment against Palestinians by Israeli settlers, especially since the conflict intensified on October 7th.
Gantz, a retired centrist general, recently entered a wartime coalition with Netanyahu, aligning with far-right parties that staunchly support Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This alliance marks a significant political development in Israel's governance during this tumultuous period.