Blinken urges 'need to end rocket attacks' on Israel in call with Palestinian President Abbas

Hamas has fired around 1,500 rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory since hostilities escalated on May 10. PHOTO: AFP
Palestinians are seen inspecting debris left behind after an Israeli strike in Gaza City on May 12, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday (May 12) he spoke with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, urging an end to rocket attacks fired from Gaza by Hamas militants amid escalating tensions with Israel.

"I spoke with President Abbas about the ongoing situation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza," the US top diplomat posted on Twitter.

"I expressed condolences for the loss of life. I emphasised the need to end rocket attacks and de-escalate tensions."

A statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price added that "the Secretary also expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity."

A readout of the call from the Palestinian presidency said Abbas had "stressed the importance of stopping the Israeli attacks on our Palestinian people everywhere, and putting an end to settler attacks and the aggressive Israeli measures against our people."

Earlier Wednesday, Blinken said that a US envoy would travel to the Middle East to seek to calm tensions. The top diplomat also spoke with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and pushed for both sides to de-escalate.

Since hostilities escalated on Monday evening, Hamas has fired around 1,500 rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory, according to the latest estimate by Israel's army.

But Washington does not speak with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group.

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