Israel presses onslaught in Gaza's Khan Younis as US pursues ceasefire quest


An Israeli air strike on an apartment in southern Gaza killed six people on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt to pursue a quest for a truce deal.

Israel said its forces had killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen throughout Gaza in the past 24 hours with fighting focused on Khan Younis in the south and a threatened assault looming on a nearby border town teeming with displaced people.

Blinken headed for meetings in Cairo after a stop on Monday in Saudi Arabia during his latest trouble-shooting Middle East swing Palestinians hope will clinch a truce before Israeli forces storm Gaza's southern fringes where over a million of Gaza's people are sheltering.

It was Blinken's fifth trip to the region since Hamas' attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7 triggered the war, and his first visit since Washington brokered an offer, with Israeli input, for the first extended ceasefire of the conflict, which Hamas says it is still weighing.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Blinken and Saudi Arabia's ruling crown prince discussed regional steps to achieve an enduring end to the war, tackling the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and limiting regional spillovers of the crisis.

Blinken departed Riyadh just after sunrise for a marathon day of talks in Egypt and Qatar before he flies on to Israel.

Washington seeks a deal to secure the release of remaining hostages among those Hamas kidnapped in its Oct. 7 assault as key to making headway on broader challenges such as the governance of post-war Gaza.

In an update on Tuesday, Gaza's Health Ministry said at least 27,585 Palestinians had been confirmed killed in Israel's ground and aerial blitz with thousands more feared buried under vast tracts of rubble across the densely populated enclave. Some 107 had been killed in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

The only truce so far lasted a week in November.


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