Israel Says it Dismantled Hamas Operations in Northern Gaza: Live Updates

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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, right, meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece in Crete on Saturday.Credit…Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, and Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s top diplomat, are separately visiting the Middle East in an effort to reduce the risk of war expanding further in the region.

Mr. Blinken is in Amman, Jordan, for meetings on Sunday as part of a days-long Middle East tour. He was in Turkey on Saturday, meeting with his Turkish counterpart and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he discussed the need to keep the Gaza conflict from spreading, among other subjects, according to a State Department statement. Later, he met with Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on the island of Crete.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Blinken said that “we want to do everything possible to make sure we don’t see escalation” in the violence between Israel and Hezbollah. He also noted that Turkey could play a role in a plan for postwar Gaza.

“I think from our conversations today, it’s clear that Turkey is prepared to play a positive, productive role in work that needs to happen the day after the conflict ends,” he said, adding that Turkey could also use its ties with countries in the region to “to do everything possible to de-escalate and to prevent the conflict from spreading.”

Mr. Borrell, the European Union diplomat, was visiting Lebanon on Saturday, where he said his priority was to “avoid regional escalation and to advance diplomatic efforts” for peace in the region.

Mr. Borrell has been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to ensure that the war in Gaza ends with an attempt to create a Palestinian state in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. For now, that appears a distant prospect, however, with Israeli strikes and ground operations continuing inside Gaza on Saturday with multiple people killed, according to Wafa, a news agency run by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, leading Israel to respond in Gaza with one of the deadliest military campaigns this century. At the same time, Israel had been engaged in a low-level second conflict with Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas and a fellow proxy of Iran.

That second front has mostly been contained within the border areas of northern Israel and southern Lebanon, with both sides generally limiting their strikes to within a few miles of the border, far from major cities like Tel Aviv or Beirut.

But the assassination of a senior Hamas commander, Saleh al-Arouri, on Tuesday in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, in a building deep inside a Hezbollah stronghold, prompted fears that Hezbollah might respond with a more forceful attack of its own on major cities in central Israel. The attack was attributed by Hamas and Hezbollah to Israel. Lebanese and U.S. officials have also ascribed the attack to Israel, though Israel has not confirmed its role.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has made two speeches since the assassination, most recently on Friday, in which he pledged that the killing would not go “unpunished.”

For now, the United States is involved in diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions — but if that fails, Israel’s government has hinted that it may resort to a more aggressive military operation, and possibly even an invasion of Lebanon.

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