U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Friday for his third visit since the start of the war with Hamas.
The top American diplomat met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the War Cabinet including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Ministers-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi also attended the meeting, as did Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi and Shas Party leader MK Aryeh Deri.
Participating in the meeting for the U.S. side were Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, State Department Counselor Derek Chollet, U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues David Satterfield and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew.
At the beginning of their meeting, Netanyahu showed Blinken and his delegation footage of the massacre perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Speaking to reporters before departing Washington, Blinken said that he planned to discuss “the ongoing campaign against the Hamas terrorist organization” and “steps that need to be taken to protect civilians” in the Gaza Strip.
Blinken is also expected to discuss “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s offensive in Gaza and the long-term strategy for governing the Strip after Hamas is destroyed.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he agrees with a humanitarian pause but is against a ceasefire.
Israel announced the start of “Operation Swords of Iron” on Oct. 7, hours after Hamas terrorists rampaged through western Negev communities, murdering at least 1,400 persons, wounding over 5,000 others and taking over 240 captives back to Gaza.
Blinken will be working to free the hostages, including American citizens, during his visit.
Lew presented his credentials as ambassador to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Thursday after the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment the previous day in a fast-tracked hearing.
Blinken is also traveling to Jordan, where he will participate in an Arab summit, before heading to Japan, Korea and India, according to the U.S. State Department.