Blinken asks Israel for 'urgent' action against settler violence in West Bank
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called on Israel to take "urgent" action to stop settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Blinken, in San Francisco for an Asia-Pacific summit, made the plea in a telephone call with Benny Gantz, an opposition leader who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wartime cabinet.
Blinken "stressed the urgent need for affirmative steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, including by confronting rising levels of settler extremist violence," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
Blinken also spoke to Gantz about ongoing diplomacy to free hostages seized by Hamas when they launched a major raid into Israel on October 7 from the Gaza Strip.
"These settlers don't care about the Israelis killed near Gaza. They want Palestinians to leave Area C so they can steal our land. And now the government has given them guns."— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 23, 2023
With all eyes on Gaza, Israeli settlers wage their own war in the West Bank: https://t.co/roqHFJ9CnZ
Israeli officials say around 240 people were taken hostage during the Hamas attacks, which killed some 1,200 people. Hamas says the attack was in response to Israel's 17-year blockade of Gaza and agression against the Palestinians in occupied territories.
Since then, indiscriminate Israeli bombardment and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip have killed more than 11,500 people, also mostly civilians and including thousands of children.
Unlike the Gaza Strip, which is under Hamas control, the West Bank is largely under Israeli occupation with limited autonomy by the Palestinian Authority, longtime rivals of Hamas.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have faced increased harassment from Israeli settlers since the war began. Israeli raids there which have also increased since 7 October have killed around 200 Palestinians.