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As Israel prepares for a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, the international community has mobilised to try to protect civilians and prevent the conflict spreading across the region.

But Israel's avowed determination to crush Hamas, the group behind the October 7 attack on Israel, are hampering mediation efforts. So too are clashes along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.

A multitude of players

Among the most active international players is the United States, whose Secretary of State Antony Blinken started a tour of six Arab countries on Friday, visiting Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Washington, like its European allies, is concerned to avoid the opening of a second front with the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. But they have been clear in their support for Israel's right to defend itself.

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