WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday endorsed a possible “humanitarian pause” in the fighting to protect civilians and allow for aid delivery in the Gaza Strip, marking the first time the Biden administration has publicly suggested such a break in the hostilities.
Blinken stopped short of backing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to end the suffering in Gaza, where officials in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave say more than 5,000 people have died in Israel’s bombardment. An estimated one million people — roughly half of Gaza’s population — have fled their homes amid what the UN says is an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.
“Palestinian civilians must be protected,” Blinken told a ministerial gathering of the UN Security Council in New York.
As the Israeli military prepares for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip against the militants responsible for killing more than 1,400 people on Oct. 7, Blinken urged Israel to take “all possible precautions” to avoid civilian harm. Food, water and other essential supplies must reach the Gazans who need them, he said.