Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is set to visit the United States. Gallant is scheduled to meet with top US officials, including Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Key topics include developments in the Gaza conflict, efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, humanitarian initiatives, and strategies for regional stability.

Gallant’s Washington visit follows a recent trip by Secretary Blinken to the region, during which he cautioned against an Israeli offensive on Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed preparation to proceed with the operation independently if necessary, signalling a potential rift with US interests in the region. Rafah is now a shelter for 1.5 million Palestinians.

Gallant’s visit marks his first since the outbreak of the conflict. It comes after US President Joe Biden’s call for Israeli officials to engage in discussions aimed at preventing a full-scale military operation in Rafah. However, according to a US defence official, Gallant’s meeting with Secretary Austin is distinct from the delegation visit requested by President Biden.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces, in their ongoing onslaught, have targeted a house in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, killing at least seven Palestinians.

Reports have also emerged of Israeli forces opening fire on thousands of Palestinians waiting for food aid near Al-Kuwait roundabout in northern Gaza City, killing over 19 people and injuring more than 23 others.

Gaza health ministry said the Israeli army and tanks opened fire with machine guns “towards the hungry people who were waiting for bags of flour and aid in a place far from posing any danger to the occupation”.

Despite attempts to broker a ceasefire, Hamas officials revealed that Israeli negotiators had rejected their latest proposals.

After visiting the Rafah border crossing on Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the aid blockade at the Rafah border by Israel as a “moral outrage.”

Since 7 October, 32,142 Palestinians have been killed, with 74,412 sustaining injuries in Israeli attacks on Gaza.