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US and Israel to develop safe zones to get humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip

Israel and the US have agreed to establish “safe zones” and develop a plan to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, according to a senior State Department official.

David Satterfield will discuss the issue with Israeli officials as a special envoy for humanitarian aid in the war. The US government anticipates that the plans will be implemented before the Israeli ground operation begins, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official said Blinken had spoken with President Joe Biden after meeting with the Egyptian president in Cairo on Sunday. Blinken told Biden that all the Arab leaders he had met with since Thursday were calling on Israel to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Biden then advised Blinken to travel to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blinken was already in Israel on Monday discussing aid to Gaza with Israeli officials. Once aid enters Gaza through Rafah, a crossing point on the border with Egypt, the point will be opened and US citizens and possibly other foreigners will be able to leave Gaza. Washington expresses hope that Israel will not bomb the Rafah crossing.

During the week, the Israeli army was put on alert. The IDF retaliated with large-scale rocket attacks that continued for a week. On 14 October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the start of the next phase of the operation in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said that battalions of the Israeli army were deployed throughout the country and were increasing their combat readiness “for the next phases of the war, with a focus on significant ground operations”.

The United States has told some troops, potentially 2,000, to be ready to deploy within 24 hours if notified — instead of the usual 96 hours — to the region and could include units that provide assistance such as medical aid if needed, the US official said.

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