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  • Israel-Hamas war live updates: Anti-U.S. opinion in Arab countries grows over support for Israel, leaders tell Blinken

    Feb 07 2024154 Dilihat

    President Joe Biden was visiting Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on a campaign stop today when a group of war protesters interrupted his speech.

    “If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine,” one protester shouted during his speech.

    A pro-Palestinian group began chanting “ceasefire now” but were shortly drowned out with boisterous calls for “four more years.” Biden thanked the group but then addressed the demonstrators.

    “I understand your passion,” Biden said. “I’ve been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce significantly and get out in Gaza.”

    Only five of the U.N.’s 22 health centers remain operational in central and southern Gaza, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said today on X.

    The post added that there have been 200 incidents impacting its premises in Gaza and displaced people sheltering in them since the Israel-Hamas war began. This included 63 direct hits on its installations in the enclave, it said.

    The post came after UNRWA said in a situation report yesterday, that more than 300 people have been killed in its shelters and more than 1,100 had been injured.

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The United States is being blamed by the Arab public along with Israel for the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza, leaders in the Middle East have warned Blinken on his diplomatic tour this week, according to multiple senior administration officials, diplomatic sources, and congressional officials.

    Arab leaders delivered the same message to a Senate delegation visiting the region this week according to those familiar with the discussions. They said that the strong popular feeling is being fueled by catastrophic images of the devastation from Israel’s military campaign, the sources said.

    And although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of months of fighting ahead, a senior administration official traveling with Blinken told NBC News that the U.S. expects the fighting to end in a matter of weeks. Blinken is expected to tell Israel in meetings this week that it needs to wind down its military campaign as soon as possible and employ better targeting to reduce the number of civilian casualties.

    That message comes as outrage grows across the region.

    Public opinion in Jordan, for decades America’s closest Arab ally, appears to be particularly negative. According to several senators, officials in Amman told them a recent survey found 70% of those questioned said they supported Hamas. A veteran Jordanian diplomat told NBC News that anti-U.S. sentiment is now so high that American-branded local franchises such as McDonalds and Starbucks have seen business drop dramatically, with many closing.

    Still, two senior administration officials told NBC News that while Arab leaders are publicly demanding an immediate cease-fire, they are privately telling Blinken that they are prepared to help with one of his top priorities for this trip: supporting post-war reconstruction and governance of Gaza. But they, and the administration, are adamantly against any Israeli reoccupation of Gaza or displacement of Palestinians, as some hard-line ministers in Netanyahu’s coalition have proposed.

    Blinken rejected those statements as “irresponsible” and “inflammatory” at a news conference in Doha on Sunday after meeting with Qatari leaders. “Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow. They cannot and they must not be pressed to leave Gaza,” he said. Blinken has been focused intently on the humanitarian crisis, and his other top priorities on the trip are getting U.S. and other hostages out of Gaza and preventing the conflict from spreading to other fronts.

    Multiple State Department officials have told NBC News that they are eager to hear what Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, says about U.S.-led efforts to combat the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have been attacking international shipping in the Red Sea.

    After meeting with the crown prince in the kingdom later today, Blinken will head to Israel for talks, followed by final stops in the West Bank and Egypt before returning to the U.S. on Thursday.

    Video: Israel-Hamas war live updates: Anti-U.S. opinion in Arab countries grows over support for Israel, leaders tell Blinken

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