US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accompanied by a team of American officials arrives at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Thursday. The visit coincides with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which erupted after a Hamas attack on October 7.
Among the US officials joining Secretary Blinken on this important visit are his counselor Derek Chollet, Deputy Chief of Staff Tom Sullivan, US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steve Gillen.
Addressing reporters before his departure from the United States, Blinken emphasized, “We are heading, as you know, to Israel, and I’m going with a very simple and clear message on behalf of the President of the United States and on behalf of the American people, and that is that the United States has Israel’s back. We have the back of the Israeli people. We have their back today. We’ll have it tomorrow. We will have it every day.”
Blinken confirmed his meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Issac Herzog, and other senior officials. He also expressed his anticipation for a meeting with the US embassy team in Israel and affirmed the US’s unwavering commitment to providing Israel with the necessary support for self-defense.
He further elaborated, “We’re determined to make sure that Israel gets everything it needs to defend itself and provide for the security of its people. Already, significant military assistance requested by Israel is on the way. That’s on top of everything that we’ve been doing for years, including with the memorandum of understanding that was negotiated by President Obama, to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.”
The ongoing conflict sparked by the Hamas attack has taken a toll in Israel with the death toll reaching 1,300 and approximately 3,300 individuals injured. Among the injured, 28 are in critical condition, while 350 are in serious condition, according to The Times of Israel, citing Hebrew media reports. The fate of roughly 150 individuals abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip during the Hamas attack remains uncertain, the report stated.
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