Blinken visits Egypt to seek 'enduring end' to Gaza war

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Egypt on Tuesday as part of his latest Middle East crisis tour, seeking a new ceasefire and "an enduring end" to the Israel-Hamas war.

Heavy strikes and fighting in Gaza killed at least 99 people overnight, mostly women and children, said the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory that has been under almost four months of bombardment.

Fears grew for more than a million Palestinians crowded into the far southern Rafah area as the battlefront draws ever closer in Israel's campaign to eradicate Hamas over the Oct. 7 attack.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Monday that the military "will reach places where we have not yet fought... right up to the last Hamas bastion, which is Rafah", on the Egyptian border.

Blinken — on his fifth regional tour since the bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out — was due to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a day after he held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh.

The U.S. top envoy was later expected in Qatar and then Israel, hoping to shore up support for a truce deal that was hashed out in Paris in January but has not yet been signed off on by either Hamas or Israel.

Israeli troops, with air and naval support, have been engaged in heavy urban combat centred on Gaza's main southern city of Khan Yunis, the hometown of Hamas's Gaza chief, Yahya Sinwar, much of which has been reduced to rubble.

Israel accuses Sinwar of masterminding the Oct. 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Militants also seized around 250 hostages. Israel says 132 remain in Gaza including 28 who are believed to have been...

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