Gaza, Jan 6 (IANS) Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has urged US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to put the focus of his tour in the Middle East on ending Israel’s “aggression” on the Gaza Strip.
In a statement on Friday, Haniyeh said he expected Blinken to “glean lessons from the past three months and recognize Washington’s mistakes in supporting the occupation”, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Palestinian resistance movement’s leader urged Arab and Islamic countries to emphasize to Washington that the stability of the Middle East is linked to the necessity of resolving the Palestinian issue.
Haniyeh’s remarks came as Blinken started Friday a tour in the Middle East, during which he will visit Israel and the West Bank, in addition to Turkey and five Arab countries, mainly to discuss the developments of the Gaza conflict and its spillover in the region.
The remarks also came at a time when the Israeli army issued new evacuation orders to residents in the central Gaza Strip, demanding them to relocate southward.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mentioned in a press statement that the Israeli army, in the past hours, issued evacuation orders in two additional residential areas in the north and west of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza through leaflets dropped by aircraft.
The new evacuation orders cover an estimated 1.2 square km area, inhabited by approximately 4,700 people and housing a UN-supported health centre, said the statement.
The UN estimates that 1.9 million people, or nearly 85 per cent of Gaza’s total population, have become displaced, including many who have been displaced multiple times for safety.
The southern Gazan city of Rafah and its environs have sheltered the majority of the displaced, with over a million living in extremely overcrowded conditions, since Israel has intensified attacks on the central areas of the Gaza Strip and Khan Younis in the south.
The Palestinian enclave has been under massive Israeli bombardment and siege since October 7, 2023, which came in retaliation for a surprise attack by Hamas on the same day on southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people.