1 of 6 | Freeing U.S. hostages held by Hamas and ensuring the safety of other Americans in the region remains a top priority, Blinken told foreign ministers from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and the Palestine Liberation Organization during Saturday's meeting in Jordan. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Arab diplomats Saturday in Jordan as Palestinian health officials claimed 15 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a school in Gaza.
Blinken told diplomats from several Arab nations during an in-person meeting in Jordan Saturday that the United States will continue to support Israel while working to end hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.
Washington will also use its influence to help ensure the safety and security of American citizens in both Israel and the Palestinian enclave, Blinken told reporters at a news conference following his meeting with foreign ministers from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The declaration came the same day the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 15 people were killed and 70 wounded during an Israeli airstrike at a school-turned-shelter in the Jabalia refugee camp north of Gaza City.
The ministry said the latest deaths brought the toll of Palestinians killed since Oct. 7 to 9,488, including 3,900 children, along with nearly 25,000 injured.
Blinken's meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman was part of a larger nine-day trip that will see him make stops in the capital cities of Israel, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and India.
Securing the release of any remaining American hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza also remains a top U.S. priority, as does ensuring humanitarian aid reaches the Palestinian territory.
"Secretary Blinken will reiterate U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism consistent with international humanitarian law and discuss efforts to safeguard U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, work to secure the immediate release of hostages, increase the pace and volume of humanitarian assistance entering Gaza for distribution to Palestinian civilians, and prevent the conflict from spreading," the State Department said in a release issued Saturday.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops also clashed with the militant arm of Hezbollah in Lebanon after the group launched new high-powered missiles into Israel. Israeli soldiers targeted positions inside Lebanon, the Jerusalem Post reported, along with a video of an air strike.
Israeli forces fired missiles into Lebanon by air and ground, targeting Hezbollah weapons depots and other positions, after the military wing of the Shia Islamist party launched rocket attacks over the border into Israel.
The came a day after a much-anticipated speech by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah in which, while not declaring all-out war against Israel as had been predicted, eh declared, "All options are open."
Nasrallah told the crowd of thousands gathered in Lebanon for the speech that the situation "could escalate militarily at any time."
The U.S. State Department said a key component of Blinken's current diplomatic mission to the Mideast is to discourage Hezbollah from further widening the conflict.
"The Secretary shared his deep concern about exchanges of fire along Lebanon's southern border with Israel and stressed the importance of ensuring the Israel-Hamas conflict does not spread elsewhere," a U.S. spokesman said in a statement after Blinken met with Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Saturday.
"Secretary Blinken thanked the Prime Minister for his leadership in preventing Lebanon from being pulled into a war that the Lebanese people do not want, as well as his efforts with regional partners to pursue durable and sustainable peace in the region," the statement read.