During his recent visit to Israel amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the distressing realities faced by civilians in the region, along with the intensifying security concerns.
Expressing deep anguish over the brutality of the Hamas attack on October 7 in southern Israel, Secretary Blinken narrated, “I’ve witnessed unimaginable horrors – a baby pierced by bullets, soldiers brutally beheaded, and young people burned alive in their cars or rooms. It’s almost unfathomable.”
Reflecting on the horrifying images shared by the Israeli government, Blinken struggled to articulate the gravity of the situation, stating, “Words fail to capture the atrocities depicted in these photographs and videos. It’s beyond what anyone could imagine, let alone witness or experience.”
Addressing the issue of Hamas’ exploitation of civilians as human shields, Secretary Blinken emphasized, “Hamas’s continuous use of civilians as shields is deeply troubling. Deliberately placing innocent lives in harm’s way is unacceptable. It’s vital to underscore that Israel’s operations in Gaza are not aimed at civilians.”
Discussing strategies to meet the humanitarian needs of Gazans while ensuring their safety during Israel’s legitimate security operations, Blinken emphasized the significance of protecting innocent lives. “We deliberated on ways to protect the people in Gaza from harm while Israel defends itself from terrorism. The possibility of providing safe passage for civilians willing to leave Gaza is a topic we will actively pursue in the days ahead,” he stated.
Reiterating the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s right to self-defense, Secretary Blinken emphasized the necessity of preventing further escalation in the conflict and warned against any exploitation of the situation by state or non-state actors. “It is our shared determination, that of Israel and the US, to prevent any further fronts in this conflict. President Biden has made it unequivocally clear that no entity, state or non-state, should seek to take advantage of this situation,” he asserted.
Regarding the US’s commitment to assisting Israel at its request, Blinken affirmed, “President Biden has unequivocally declared our solidarity with Israel’s efforts to protect its people and country. We are dedicated to ensuring that the tragic events of Saturday never recur.”
Expressing gratitude for the ongoing support, Israeli President Isaac Herzog underscored the highest priority of securing and defending the Israeli people. “The appalling events, the most significant loss of Jewish lives since the Holocaust, underscore the urgency of ensuring the security and defense that the people of Israel deserve,” Herzog emphasized.
Meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken conveyed the enduring commitment of the US to stand by Israel. “The message I convey to Israel is this: While you are strong enough to defend yourself, the United States will always be there by your side, ensuring your security,” Blinken assured.
The Times of Israel reported a substantial increase in casualties since the Hamas attack on October 7, with the death toll reaching 1,300 and more than 3,300 people injured. The report also highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the fate of around 150 people abducted during the Hamas attack and taken to the Gaza Strip.
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