Blinken says Israel should not 'dehumanise others' after 7 October
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Israel should not "dehumanise others" after the 7 October attacks, in what is seen as a pointed reference toward the mistreatment of Palestinians and follows the Israeli leadership's rejection of a truce offer by Hamas.
Blinken is in Israel following visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt earlier this week, amid a push for a new ceasefire in Gaza.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night rejected Hamas's demands for a truce and insisted defeating the group remains his primary war aim.
Netanyahu's announcement has frustrated US-Arab plans for a pause to fighting, which might alleviate some of the hardships endured by Gaza's 2.3 million population, the vast majority being displaced from their homes amid stark warnings of famine.
It is also a blow to Blinken's fifth visit to the MENA region since 7 October for a new ceasefire, although US officials reportedly still hope a deal can be reached.
"Israelis were dehumanised in the most horrific way on October 7. The hostages have been dehumanised every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanise others," said Blinken.
Israeli media interpreted this as a reference to the Gaza war, killing nearly 28.000 Palestinians so far, and a spate of 'genocidal' comments by Israeli ministers.
"The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7," Blinken added.
"The families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families. They’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who want to earn a decent living, send their kids to school, have a normal life. That’s who they are. That’s what they want."
Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have called for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the re-establishment of Israeli settlements in the enclave.
This has been a red line for the US, EU, and Arab states, although Israel is now set to launch an assault on Rafah, a small enclave not yet occupied by Israel and home to around 1.4 million Palestinians forced to flee there, which would drastically worsen the situation in Gaza.