US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a multinational trip Saturday after visiting Israel for the third time since the October 7 Hamas attack.
Meanwhile, a US official told CNN that Hamas is blocking foreign nationals from leaving Gaza after an Israeli airstrike on an ambulance near a hospital Friday.
Here are some of the latest headlines:
Blinken meets with Arab leaders: The top US diplomat has reiterated his country’s rejection of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, instead calling once again for “humanitarian pauses” to get aid into Gaza. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government opposes any temporary ceasefire in Gaza unless Hamas frees all the hostages it holds, adding that it would continue to block fuel from entering the enclave.
Blinken met with foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar, as well as the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Egyptian and Jordanian leaders made remarks after the meetings strongly condemning Israel’s offensive. Blinken, who acknowledged differences with Arab leaders on their approaches to the conflict, will also travel to Turkey.
Hamas stopping foreigners from leaving, official says: Hamas is blocking foreign nationals from departing Gaza until Israel guarantees that ambulances from the Palestinian enclave can reach the Rafah crossing to Egypt, a US official familiar with situation told CNN Saturday.
The demand comes after Israel admitted on Friday that it attacked an ambulance outside Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the enclave. The vehicle had been in a convoy headed for Rafah, which is the only remaining option for getting in and out of Gaza during Israel’s siege of the territory. Israel claimed the ambulance was being used by Hamas fighters, which the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza has rejected.
More than 700 foreign nationals were expected to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing Saturday, according to an official source on the Egyptian side of the crossing.
CNN reported Friday that initial efforts to secure safe passage for foreign nationals in Gaza were stymied in part by Hamas including its own members on a list of wounded Palestinians designated to pass through the Rafah crossing, according to a senior US official.
UN chief on Israel’s ambulance attack: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement he was “horrified” by the strike, while calling for a ceasefire and release of hostages.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan accused Guterres of rushing to comment “without even bothering to ask” about the context of the strike. “You completely ignore the fact that Hamas intentionally exploits ambulances for terror,” Erdan wrote on Saturday in post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Strikes near hospital and school shelter: Israeli airstrikes have damaged a building located in front of the emergency entrance of Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, injuring 21 people, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said Saturday.
A UN-run school serving as a shelter in a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip was also struck Saturday, according to the main UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees in Gaza.
Humanitarian situation: The number of people who have fled from north of Wadi Gaza to the southern part of the enclave is estimated to be 800,000 “to perhaps a million,” the US special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, David Satterfield, said Saturday. There has been no new fuel into Gaza since the war began, he said.
The US is looking at the prospect of establishing field hospitals in south Gaza, Satterfield said, and Israel is engaging with countries about putting hospital ships offshore of Gaza.
IDF says Hamas fired on safe route: The Israeli military accused Hamas of using an announcement telling Gaza residents to move safely south as an opportunity to fire on soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces.
The IDF had called on Gaza residents via its Arabic account on X, formerly known as Twitter, to use the main Salah-al-Din Road to move south for a three-hour period from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. local time. It’s unclear how many Gaza residents had access to internet to see the message.
Turkey latest to recall ambassador: Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel for “consultations” due to the “unfolding humanitarian tragedy in Gaza” and continuing Israeli airstrikes, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday. Several other countries, including Honduras, Colombia, Chile, and Bahrain, have also withdrawn their ambassadors.