Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that Israel’s response would be “very powerful” if Hamas violated the truce that ended 11 days of conflict with the Gaza militants.
“If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful,” the Israeli premier said, following a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who was in Jerusalem as part of US efforts to consolidate the ceasefire.
The truce, brokered by Egypt and coordinated with the United States, began on Friday after 11 days of the worst fighting between Palestinian militants and Israel in years. Now in its fifth day, it has been holding.
US Secretary of State Anyony Blinken, in a joint press conference with Netanyahu, said losses on both sides were profound in the Israel-Gaza bloodshed, adding that US President Joe Biden made it clear that the US fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Gaza.
Blinken said he had come to the region to try to reduce tensions. He began his regional visit in Jerusalem, where he held talks with Netanyahu.
“We know that to prevent a return to violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges,” Blinken said.
“And that begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.”
The United States, he said, would work to rally international support around that effort and make its own “significant contributions”, to be announced later in the day.
“We will work with our partners, closely with all to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction assistance,” Blinken said about the group.
In tandem with Blinken’s mission, Israeli authorities said they were allowing fuel, medicine and food earmarked for Gaza’s private sector to enter the territory for the first time since the hostilities began on May 10.
Blinken was also due to meet Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank later in the day and visit Cairo and Amman.
But US officials have suggested it was too early for wider peace talks between Israel, in political flux after four inconclusive elections in two years, and the Palestinians, divided by enmity between Hamas and Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu said Israel will always reserve the right to defend itself against Iran. The US is consulting with Israel about the Iran nuclear deal, according to Blinken.