KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in israel on Friday to press for more humanitarian aid to be allowed into besieged Gaza, while Israeli troops tightened their encirclement of Gaza City, the focus of Israel's campaign to crush the enclave's ruling Hamas group.
On the northern border with Lebanon, tensions escalated ahead of a speech planned for later Friday by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. He is making his first public comments since Hamas attacked israel last month.
Hezbollah, an Iran-backed ally of Hamas, attacked Israeli military positions in northern Israel with drones, mortar fire and suicide drones, stoking fears the Israel-Hamas war could become a regional one. The Israeli military said it retaliated with warplanes and helicopter gunships.
Since the war began on Oct. 7, Hezbollah has taken calculated steps to keep Israel's military busy on the country's border with Lebanon but so far has done nothing of the extent to ignite an all-out war.
More than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza so far, and another 1,400 people have died in Israel, mainly civilians killed during Hamas' initial attack.
Blinken is making his third trip to Israel since the Hamas attack. This trip takes him to Tel Aviv and Amman, Jordan, and follows President Joe Biden's suggestion for a humanitarian “pause” in the fighting. The aim would be to let in aid for Palestinians and…