U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on October 12 on a Middle East mission to prevent a wider conflict from erupting after an attack and hostage-taking by Palestinian Hamas militants and an Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Blinken will first meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, then travel to Jerusalem to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day.
Before boarding a plane bound for Israel, Blinken told reporters he will work with regional U.S. allies to try to secure the release of more than 100 people that Israel says Hamas holds captive, some of whom may be American citizens. At least 22 Americans were killed during the attack, Blinken said, warning the number will probably go up.
Asked if Washington had advocated for Israel to exercise restraint in its response, with a ground operation in Gaza expected, Blinken said that Israel respects international law and makes efforts to avoid civilian casualties. Blinken is also expected to try to secure safe passage for Gaza civilians out of the densely-populated enclave.
(Inputs from Reuters)