US Secretary of State Blinken on the way to Middle East

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on his way to the Middle East as negotiations continue between Israel and Hamas for the release of the hostages and a humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza.

Blinken left the US on Sunday. His tour will include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank. Qatar and Egypt are mediating the Israel-Hamas negotiations.

His visit to the region comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues his uncompromising stance, aiming to totally destroy Hamas. However, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has expressed his intention to seek a permanent ceasefire.

Netanyahu said at a government meeting on Sunday that Israel's military had destroyed many of the Hamas battalions in Gaza. He also vowed to deal with the remaining ones.

Health authorities in Gaza say the death toll from Israel's military offensive reached 27,365 on Sunday.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that he cannot say a deal for a pause and the release of hostages "is right around the corner."