Blinken makes surprise visit to West Bank
Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the West Bank today where he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Neither commented on the visit.
Blinken’s surprise visit to the occupied area follows tricky meetings with Arab leaders in the Jordanian capital Amman, where he was pressed repeatedly to call for a ceasefire in Gaza by Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari and Emirati diplomats and a senior Palestinian official.
After his stop in the West Bank, Blinken will move on to Ankara early next week to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, another late addition to his tour.
Erdoğan, who initially pitched himself as a potential mediator in Israel-Hamas war, recalled Turkish ambassadors to Tel Aviv Saturday and released a statement severing ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he said was the “main person to blame” for the ongoing bombardment of Gaza.
Hamas says 60 hostages have been killed as a result of Israeli bombardment
Sixty hostages have been killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza, Abu Obaida, spokesperson for Hamas’ military wing, said in a statement on Telegram.
He added that the bodies of 23 Israeli hostages remain buried under rubble, “and it seems that we will never be able to reach them due to the continued brutal aggression of the occupation against Gaza.”
NBC News was unable to independently verify those numbers, and the Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Hamas statement.
Hamas took more than 240 hostages, at least 33 of them children, during its terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Israeli government. Four have been released, and one has been rescued.
Obstetric care in Gaza collapsing, mothers and newborns disproportionately impacted
Israeli strikes on healthcare infrastructure and the reduced capacity of health facilities in Gaza are disproportionately impacting new and expecting mothers and newborn babies, a group of humanitarian agencies said.
In a joint statement, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency warned that bombardments and collapsing water and electricity supplies are severely disrupting maternal and child health services in Gaza.
An estimated 180 women give birth per day in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement. But recently, women have had to deliver in emergency shelters and on the street among rubble, and clean water and sanitation services are severely limited, the agencies said. That has caused medical complications and infections associated with childbearing to rise.
As hospitals run out of fuel and are unable to provide emergency obstetric services, that also threatens the lives of 130 premature babies currently relying on intensive care services and medical equipment in hospitals, such as incubators, the statement said.
An estimated 3,800 children and 2,400 women have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. That’s a majority of the war’s casualties in the enclave.
Blinken meets with Jordanian king
AMMAN, Jordan — In a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the U.S.’ commitment to seeing essential services resumed in Gaza and humanitarian assistance delivered.
As he continued his tour of the Middle East, Blinken “emphasized the U.S. commitment to working with partners towards a durable and sustainable peace in the region,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Blinken also expressed “concern regarding the increasing violence in the West Bank,” Miller said.
The U.S.’ refusal to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict has put it at odds with the demands of leaders across the Arab World. King Abdullah II has recalled Jordan’s ambassador to Israel over the country’s approach to the conflict, and told Israel’s envoy not to return to Jordan until the Gaza crisis is over.
Photo: Red handprints on gateposts in front of White House
Photos show painted red handprints left on a fence in front of the White House, where protesters had gathered, some holding Palestinian flags. Demonstrators marched in Washington on Saturday, some calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
In a statement, U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said there had been an attempted gate trespass earlier, which was “handled without incident” by the Secret Service and others.
He said demonstrators were beginning to leave the area.
“As of now, no arrests have been made by Secret Service personnel,” Guglielmi said.
Families and supporters of hostages call for their release at Tel Aviv demonstration
Thousands of people joined a demonstration in Tel Aviv organized by families of the 241 hostages held in the Gaza Strip.
“Now!” the crowd chanted repeatedly, calling for the hostages to be freed without delay. Many held pictures of the hostages, some of them children and older people, who have spent nearly a month in captivity.
Hamas militants abducted the hostages in the Oct. 7 terror attack that triggered the war. The plight of the hostages and their families has captured the world’s attention.
Hadas Kalderon of Kibbutz Nir Oz, whose two children — ages 16 and 12 — were kidnapped, called for a cease-fire in exchange for the hostages’ return. Ella Ben-Ami, a 23-year-old Israeli whose parents were abducted, said she holds Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible. She called for a halt in all humanitarian aid to Gaza until the hostages are freed.
Israel Defense Forces work to navigate and destroy Hamas tunnels in Gaza
Tunnel warfare expert Daphne Richemond-Barak spoke to MSNBC’s Alex Witt about Israel’s efforts to locate and destroy Hamas’ vast tunnel network under Gaza.
“It’s very difficult to know where Hamas is, where the hostages might be inside the tunnel network,” Richemond-Barak said, “and then try to get intelligence about that, but again, your traditional intelligence gathering techniques do not work when it comes to the underground.”
Dozens killed by Israeli strike on refugee camp, Hamas says
An Israeli attack on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip has killed 33 people and injured 100 more, Hamas said in a statement.
The militant group said that the majority of the dead were women and children, and that homes had been directly targeted in the camp.
The camp is located in a built-up residential area in central Gaza, within the evacuation zone where Israel‘s military had urged Palestinian civilians to seek refuge as it focuses its military offensive in northern areas.
The Palestinian WAFA news agency previously reported that 51 people had been killed in the strike on the Al-Maghazi camp. NBC News could not independently verify the number of deaths and has contacted the Israel Defense Forces for comment.