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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on January 30, 2023. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to attend his War Cabinet session this morning. He stated: “I want to express our appreciation for your support from the beginning: the President, you personally, in the war of eliminating Hamas and releasing our hostages. You’ve been very, very helpful. We appreciate it deeply.” His spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted on X that Netanyahu would discuss the “next phase” of the war with Blinken.

Blinken delivered a different message to Netanyahu, according to Israel’s Channel 12 TV station. “You can’t operate in southern Gaza in the way you did in the north. There are 2 million Palestinians there…. You need to evacuate fewer people from their homes, be more accurate in the attacks, not hit UN facilities, and ensure that there are enough protected areas. And if not? Then not to attack where there is a civilian population.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant evidently claimed that all of Israel is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, “even if it takes months”; to which Blinken was reported to have said, “I don’t think you have the credit for that.” It is not clear who leaked the conversation.

The State Department readout said that Blinken has “reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist violence in compliance with international humanitarian law and urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm.”

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