(Tel Aviv) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued his Middle East tour on Tuesday aimed at defending a ceasefire plan in the Gaza Strip, where four Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting.

In Israel, the head of American diplomacy stressed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “reaffirmed his commitment” to a ceasefire, after more than eight months of war between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian territory. .

Mr. Blinken also described as an “encouraging sign” the reaction of the Palestinian Islamist movement after the adoption on Monday by the UN Security Council of an American resolution supporting the plan announced on May 31 by President Joe Biden .

“Everyone said yes except Hamas,” he said, adding that if the movement did not accept this proposal, failure would “clearly” be its responsibility.  

“We are waiting for a response from Hamas,” Mr. Blinken insisted.  

The Secretary of State arrived in Jordan early this afternoon for an international conference aimed at mobilizing funds for humanitarian aid in the Palestinian territory besieged by Israel, where the UN is concerned about the risk of famine.

New Israeli strikes targeted the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, particularly the center where hospital sources reported Palestinians killed.

The army announced the death of four soldiers, three conscripts aged 19 and 20 and a 24-year-old active commander, killed in fighting the day before in the south.

A total of 298 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip began on October 27.

During his eighth regional tour since the start of the war on October 7, Mr. Blinken met Tuesday in Tel Aviv with Benny Gantz, a resigned member of the Israeli war cabinet, and then the leader of the opposition, Yaïr Lapid.

On Monday, the UN Security Council adopted by 14 votes and one abstention, Russia’s, the draft US resolution supporting the plan to establish in stages a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

This plan provides, in a first phase, a six-week ceasefire accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas of Gaza, the release of certain hostages and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

But neither camp has responded officially to this proposal.

Hamas said it welcomed a number of elements contained in the resolution. But after the plan was announced, the movement reiterated its demands for a definitive ceasefire and a total withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the Gaza Strip.

Israel, for its part, refuses to end the war until Hamas, in power since 2007 in the territory and which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union, is eliminated.  

The road map was presented by Joe Biden as coming from Israel, but so far the country has not formally accepted it.

Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a political setback with the resignation on Sunday from the war cabinet of centrist Benny Gantz.

On Tuesday, his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant voted against the government on a controversial bill aimed at limiting the conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews without forcing them into military service like the rest of the country.  

The Prime Minister,  according to part of the Israeli press, is seeking, despite these tensions, to take advantage of a special forces operation which made it possible to free four hostages on Saturday in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas health ministry says 274 Palestinians were killed in the operation.

This assessment could not be independently verified, but the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights judged it on Tuesday “close to being 100% accurate”.

The High Commission said it was both “deeply shocked” by the impact on civilians of this operation and “deeply distressed” that Palestinian groups continued to hold hostages.

“All these actions, by both parties, could amount to war crimes,” spokesperson Jeremy Laurence stressed in Geneva.

The mother of Almog Meir Jan, one of the freed hostages, called on the government on Monday to reach a deal to free the other hostages. “The remaining hostages need an agreement to return home safely,” Orit Meir said.

The war was sparked on October 7 by an unprecedented Hamas attack in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli data .

Of 251 people kidnapped, 116 are still held hostage in Gaza, of whom 41 are dead, according to the Israeli army.

In response, the Israeli army launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip, which left at least 37,124 dead, mostly civilians, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government.

On May 7, the army launched a ground offensive on the southern city of Rafah, which pushed a million Palestinians to flee and closed the border crossing with Egypt, crucial for entry of humanitarian aid.  

Humanitarian organizations denounce the insufficiency of aid, controlled by Israel when it enters the Gaza Strip, and the virtual impossibility of getting it to the populations.  

“This war has destroyed our lives. There is no food, no drink, it is siege and destruction everywhere,” Soad Al-Qanou, a woman trying to save her child, Amjad, who was emaciated by malnutrition, told AFP , in the ruined Jabalia camp in northern Gaza.