US Secretary of State Blinken pushes for Gaza aid

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tried time and again to help arrange a ceasefire in Gaza and get more aid to civilians. He headed back to the Middle East on Wednesday for his sixth trip since Hamas militants attacked Israel in October.

Blinken's first stop was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He met Saudi leaders to push for the release of hostages still in captivity and to find a path for the Palestinians to establish an independent state.

He also hopes the Saudis will normalize ties with Israel. However, they have said they will not unless Israel agrees to a two-state solution. They have also been warning that if Israeli troops storm the southern Gaza city of Rafah, there will be "serious repercussions."

The Saudis have heard United Nations officials warn that famine in the enclave is "imminent." They announced 40 million dollars of support for the UN relief agency focused on Gaza.

Blinken will move on to Cairo on Thursday to meet with Arab foreign ministers. On Friday, he will head to Israel to discuss how to protect the million-plus people sheltering in Rafah and to avoid a full-scale offensive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he appreciates the support of US leaders but added there are times when they "disagree." He insisted it is impossible to complete the victory without the forces entering Rafah to eliminate the rest of the Hamas battalions.

Still, Netanyahu is sending Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other delegates to Washington next week to discuss the matter.