Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv: "Obviously we want this path to move forward. We want an eighth day and more."

The US official called on Israel to ensure the establishment of "safe" zones for Palestinian civilians before resuming "major military operations" in the Gaza Strip.

Blinken stressed that Israel must "put into practice plans to protect civilians that contribute to further minimizing innocent Palestinian casualties," stressing that this "clearly and accurately includes the designation of areas and places in the southern and central Gaza Strip, where they can be safe and out of the crossfire."

He said he had made clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel must provide protection to civilians before it began operations in the southern Gaza Strip, adding that the Israeli government agreed that this was necessary.

"Israel has one of the most advanced militaries in the world. It is able to neutralize the threat posed by Hamas, while minimizing harm to innocent men, women and children. They have an obligation to do so."