Blinken was meeting with Middle East leaders in Jordan at nearly the same time Israel unleashed a pair of airstrikes north of Gaza City that reportedly killed some 20 civilians.
Those strikes hit a U.N.-backed shelter, killing refugees in tents and women who were baking bread inside an old school building, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said.
An agency spokesperson, Juliette Touma, told the Associated Press that the strike killed 2o people, but that number wasn’t immediately confirmed.
The AP reported Saturday that Blinken clashed with Arab leaders in their meeting, with the Middle Eastern countries demanding an immediate ceasefire that Blinken wouldn’t back.
“The whole region is sinking in a sea of hatred that will define generations to come,” said Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, according to the AP.
Blinken reportedly countered: “It is our view now that a ceasefire would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7,” referring to the blood-drenched invasion that left 1,300 dead.
An unnamed Egyptian official said their country and Qatar had proposed humanitarian pauses for six to 12 hours daily to allow aid in and casualties to be evacuated, as well as a potential hostage swap.
Blinken’s made a plea for a pause in Tel Aviv on Friday. “We need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians,” he said. “We’ve been clear that as Israel conducts this campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters.”
but The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu has not budged from his position that Israel won’t halt its air assault or ground operation unless all of the 200-plus hostages held by Hamas are released. That includes no temporary stoppages to allow humanitarian aid—a stance Netanyahu said he relayed to Blinken on Friday.
During his own trip to Israel in October, President Joe Biden successfully lobbied for Israel to allow a humanitarian aid corridor to open from Egypt into southern Gaza.
Israeli officials said they opened up a temporary corridor for civilians to evacuate from northern Gaza to the south on Saturday, but it was only open for three hours. Israeli officials claimed that Hamas barred civilians from evacuating and Palestinian officials complained that the route was unsafe, The Wall Street Journal reported.
As of Saturday, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that the death toll in the Gaza Strip has eclipsed 9,400, including women, children, journalists, and civilians.
Saturday marked the eighth day of Israel’s ground operation in Gaza. The Israel Defense Force announced Thursday that its armored divisions had rolled into Gaza City, which it says is the home base for Hamas.
Firefights between Israeli soldiers and Hamas have been concentrated in the north of Gaza, authorities said, and 28 Israeli soldiers had been killed in the ground operation as of Saturday.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, has come under increased pressure within Israel. The families of hostages have called on him to strike a deal with Hamas, while a group of Israelis reportedly protested outside his Jerusalem apartment on Saturday.
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in capitols around the globe. An estimated 30,000 people flooded the streets of Washington to call for a ceasefire. In Berlin, some 6,000 pro-Palestinian protesters did the same, many holding signs that accused Israel of genocide, the Agence France-Presse reported.
A border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip remained temporarily closed on Saturday after Hamas tried to sneak its injured militants along with a convoy of foreign nationals who were slated to evacuate the strip, U.S. officials said.
Prior to the closure, Egyptian officials said that 355 foreign nationals and 16 critically injured Palestinians were transported into Egypt on Friday.