For Immediate Release

Office of Press Relations


The below is attributable to Spokesperson Jessica Jennings:‎

Administrator Samantha Power concluded her February 27 - March 1 visit to Israel and the West Bank where she advocated for significant increases in the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. On the trip she also stressed the need for Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians and aid workers in their military campaign against Hamas, and the United States’ unwavering commitment to work to help free the remaining hostages and secure an agreement for an extended ceasefire. 

On February 27, Administrator Power met with humanitarian partners at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs offices in East Jerusalem. The humanitarian workers spoke about the unprecedented challenges they are facing in getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza and into the hands of Palestinian civilians who are growing increasingly desperate owing to growing malnutrition. They spoke about the grave danger humanitarians face as they work to get food, water, medicine, and shelter to those in acute need. Administrator Power expressed her condolences to those who have had colleagues and family members killed by Israeli military operations in Gaza. 

She then met with Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilding partners working under the MEPPA partnership and heard about their longstanding work to advance peace in the region. The partners described the difficulty of conducting peacebuilding initiatives during an active conflict while regional tensions are heightened and security restrictions impede their ability to engage in person. The Administrator shared her admiration for their determination to expand people-to-people ties and economic collaboration among Israelis and Palestinians, vital ingredients for long-term peace.

On February 28, Administrator Power traveled to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, a key corridor for humanitarian assistance deliveries located where Egypt, Gaza, and Israel intersect. While there, she observed Israel’s inspection and screening processes for humanitarian cargoes before they enter Gaza. She and Israeli officials discussed operational steps and additional measures urgently needed to expedite and substantially increase the humanitarian aid flowing into Gaza, and she called for the removal of the obstacles preventing or slowing assistance. 

Administrator Power visited Kibbutz Be’eri, situated on the Gaza periphery, where nearly 100 people were murdered and nearly 30 taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. During the visit, she heard from a member of the community who shared his family’s devastating experience on October 7. The Administrator offered her condolences for all those killed, injured, and taken hostage and shared her appreciation for their ongoing commitment to peace despite the brutality they lived through. She reiterated President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that an atrocity like October 7 can never happen again.

Administrator Power met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, and other senior Israeli national security officials. The Administrator shared her condolences for all those brutally murdered and taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. With the significant deterioration in conditions for civilians inside Gaza, the meeting focused on the actions that must be taken to urgently and sustainably expand humanitarian access. Israeli officials agreed to take specific steps, including keeping current border crossings like Rafah and Kerem Shalom open, opening multiple additional crossings so that aid can reach northern Gaza where civilians are facing catastrophic food insecurity, easing customs restrictions to facilitate an increased flow of humanitarian assistance from Jordan, and allowing aid to flow via U.S. airdrops and a forthcoming maritime corridor to supplement the land routes, which must move significantly more assistance. Administrator Power emphasized the urgent need for Israel to do more to protect innocent Palestinians and aid workers given the unacceptable level of civilian casualties that Gazans have experienced since the start of the war. She reiterated the United States’ grave concerns about an Israeli military campaign in Rafah and emphasized that many of the Palestinians sheltering there are housed in tents, makeshift shelters, or out in the open, that more than 600,000 of those now residing in Rafah are children, and that Rafah hosts the distribution hub of Gaza’s humanitarian aid operation and some of Gaza’s very last functional health facilities. 

She then met with Herzl Halevi, Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. They spoke about sustaining and deepening our coordination to improve humanitarian assistance flows into Gaza and agreed on next steps to improve deconfliction systems to protect humanitarian aid workers and their ability to deliver assistance to vulnerable Gazans.  

Administrator Power met with Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defense, and Major General Ghassan Alian, Head of Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).  She underscored that Israel’s military operations have killed far too many innocent civilians in Gaza and emphasized the need for Israel to urgently take multiple additional steps to facilitate the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. They agreed to continue working together to resolve obstacles and work towards new ways to increase humanitarian aid flows through all possible mechanisms. The Administrator reiterated the U.S. view that a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and implementable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there. 

On February 29, Administrator Power traveled to Ramallah in the West Bank. She visited the Learning Center at the Youth Village at Kufr Neemeh that has been severely damaged by recent extremist settler violence and forced to shut down. She spoke with young people from the community to hear about how settler violence – which was growing before October 7 but has spiraled significantly since – is obstructing movement, destroying livelihoods, and endangering Palestinian lives. The Administrator condemned settler violence against Palestinians and reiterated the United States’ opposition to expanded settlements.

Next, Administrator Power met with Palestinians from Gaza to hear directly how the Israel-Hamas war continues to inflict terrible suffering on their lives and families. They shared stories of innocent family and friends that have been killed and injured by Israeli strikes in Gaza and their devastation at seeing their homes, hospitals, and schools destroyed. They spoke about being separated from their families, many of whom remain in Gaza, and the stress of communications blackouts that prevent them from speaking with loved ones for long periods of time. They shared that most of their relatives in Gaza have endured multiple displacements and live with the ongoing constant fear that they will be killed by Israeli military forces. 

While in the West Bank, Administrator Power met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to convey the United States’ continued commitment to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, the imperative of protecting civilians and aid workers in Gaza, and the United States’ efforts to curb extremist settler violence in the West Bank. She reiterated the United States’ support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as the best pathway to enduring peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and she stressed the importance and urgency of the Palestinian Authority implementing significant reforms.

Administrator Power then sat down with a group of Palestinian private sector leaders representing different sectors, including agribusiness, banking, manufacturing, information and communications technology, pharmaceuticals, trade, and renewable energy. They talked about the devastating human and economic toll of the war for Palestinians in Gaza as well as the West Bank.

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