US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses the press in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening after meeting with President Herzog, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and members of Israel's war cabinet.

"The sheer agony of not knowing the fate of your loved one, it's almost unimaginable, and I know that that pain is almost unbearable. So we have been intensely focused from day one on getting all the hostages back to their families where they belong. And we will keep that focus until we get them back," he stated.

Regarding Hamas's response to the proposed hostage deal, he stated: "While there are some clear non-starters in Hamas's response, we do think it creates space for an agreement to be reached, and we will work at that relentlessly until we get there."

Blinken said that he held extensive discussions with the Prime Minister and security officials and stated: "We are continuing to work closely with Israel and Lebanon on diplomatic efforts to deescalate tensions on Israel's northern border so that families can return home, both in northern Israel and in southern Lebanon, and live in peace and security.

Blinken noted that "we also discussed the imperative to maximize civilian protection and humanitarian aid. To address the ongoing suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Nearly 2 million people have been displaced from their homes. hundreds of thousands are experiencing acute hunger. Most have lost someone that they love, and day after day, more people are killed.

"On all of my previous visits, and pretty much every day in between, we have pressed Israel in concrete ways to strengthen civilian protection, to get more assistance to those who need it. And over the past four months, Israel has taken important steps to do just that: starting the flow of aid, doubling it during the first pause for hostage releases, opening the north and south corridors in Gaza so people can move out of harm's way. Through these corridors, a four-hour pause every day, with three hours' notice. Opening Kerem Shalom, starting the flow of assistance from Jordan, and establishing de-confliction methods for humanitarian sites. As a result, today, more assistance than ever is moving into Gaza to more places than at any time since October 7th."

According to him, "As the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, the US has helped provide much of that assistance, including funding 90 thousand metric tons of flour, delivered from Ashdod port, that's enough to provide bread for 1.4 million people for the next five months."

Despite all this, the secretary insisted that "the daily toll that the military operation takes on innocent civilians is still too high. In our discussions, I highlighted some key steps that Israel should take to ensure that more aid reaches more people in Gaza. Israel should open Erez Crossing so that assistance can flow to northern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to survive under dire conditions. It should expedite the flow of humanitarian assistance from Jordan. It should strengthen de-confliction and improve coordination with the humanitarian providers. And Israel should make sure that the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza is not blocked for any reason, by anyone."

Blinken said that the US is urging Israel to do more, knowing full well that it faces an enemy that would never hold itself to those standards. He added that while Hamas dehumanized Israelis on October 7th, it does not give Israel a license to dehumanize others. "The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7th. The families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families. They are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, they want to earn a decent living, send their kids to school, and have a normal life. That's who they are that's what they want. And we must not lose sight of that."

Blinken noted that in discussions with the Prime Minister, he raised concerns over actions and rhetoric, including by government officials that "inflame tensions, undercut international support, and place greater strains on Israel's security. The people of Israel have sacrificed enormously to forge this nation and to defend it. They will need to decide the right path to take and whether they will be ready to make the difficult choices necessary to realize the vision of true peace and true security." He says that as a "true friend" of Israel, "we will always offer our best advice on the choices before this country, especially the ones that matter the most."