Skip to Content

Blinken pledges US will never falter from supporting Israel as he likens Hamas’ crimes to ISIS

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Washington (CNN) — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel Thursday to pledge that the United States will never falter from its support for Israel as he condemned Hamas’ “litany of brutality and inhumanity” as evoking “the worst of ISIS.”

“The message that I bring to Israel is this: you may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to,” Blinken said in remarks alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. “We will always be there by your side.”

The top US diplomat’s trip, days after Hamas’ deadly attacks in Israel, is another show of support as the Biden administration seeks to bolster the country’s defenses and stop the conflict from expanding or spreading. The visit also comes as the US seeks to help secure the release of hostages, including American citizens, held by Hamas and as the death toll, both as a result of Hamas’ attacks and Israeli strikes in Gaza, continues to grow.

Following his departure from Tel Aviv Thursday, Blinken will travel to Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

“Across each of these engagements, we’ll continue pressing countries to help prevent the conflict from spreading, and to use their leverage with Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the hostages,” Blinken said at a press conference.

The White House said Thursday that a “handful” of the 14 missing Americans are believed to be held hostage. At least 27 Americans have died as a result of the Hamas attacks, they said. While on the ground in Israel, the top US diplomat met with the families of Americans killed or taken hostage by Hamas, and vowed that “we’re doing everything we can to secure the release of the hostages, working closely with our Israeli partners.”

Deputy Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steve Gillen, who traveled to Israel with the US delegation, “will stay on the ground here to support the efforts to free their loved ones,” Blinken said.

Throughout his public remarks in Israel, Blinken expressed condemnation and horror at the brutality of the Hamas attacks. The Israeli government shared graphic photos and videos, Blinken said, of the atrocities committed by the terrorist group: “babies slaughtered, bodies desecrated, young people burned alive, women raped, parents executed in front of their children, children in front of their parents.” Netanyahu’s office publicly posted three such photos on the social media site X following their meeting.

“It’s hard to find the right words. It’s beyond what anyone would ever want to imagine, much less actually see,” Blinken said at a press conference in Israel.

The US been “adamant” with other nations about the need to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ attacks, the top US diplomat said.

“I understand on a personal level, the harrowing echoes that Hamas’ massacres carry for Israeli Jews, indeed, for Jews everywhere,” Blinken noted, describing his own identity as both a father and Jew.

“There is no excuse. There is no justification for these atrocities,” he said in his remarks alongside Netanyahu. “This is – this must be – a moment for moral clarity.”

The top US diplomat did not explicitly speak of restraint from Israeli forces but said he discussed with Israeli officials the importance of taking “every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”

“No country can or would tolerate the slaughter of its citizens or simply return to the conditions that allowed it to take place. Israel has the right, indeed the obligation, to defend itself and to ensure that this never happens again,” Blinken said.

“As the prime minister and I discussed, how Israel does this matters,” he said, reiterating that respect for civilian life is what distinguishes democracies from the likes of Hamas. Blinken also stressed that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.

“We also talked about possibilities for safe passage for civilians who want to leave or get out of the way in Gaza and that’s a conversation, a discussion that we will pursue in the coming days including some of the countries that we’ll be visiting,” he said at the press conference.

Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Blinken met with a 24-year-old Israeli-American survivor of the music festival massacre during an unannounced visit to a donation site in Tel Aviv.

“If there’s any way to help, first priority, first priority are our friends and family that are now in Gaza,” an emotional Lior Gelbaum told the top US diplomat.

“We’re thinking of them and we’re trying to do everything we can,” he replied. “We’re trying to bring them home.”

In remarks alongside Netanyahu, the top US diplomat echoed the “the crystal clear warning the President Biden issued yesterday to any adversary – state or non-state – thinking of taking advantage of the current crisis to attack Israel: Don’t.”

He said some military support has already arrived in Israel and “more is on the way.”

“As Israel’s defense needs evolve, we will work with Congress to make sure that they’re met. And I can tell you, there is overwhelming, overwhelming bipartisan support in our Congress for Israel’s security,” Blinken said.

He did not explicitly speak of restraint from Israeli forces but said he discussed with the Israeli leader the importance of taking “every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”

“No country can or would tolerate the slaughter of its citizens or simply return to the conditions that allowed it to take place. Israel has the right, indeed the obligation, to defend itself and to ensure that this never happens again,” Blinken said.

“As the prime minister and I discussed, how Israel does this matters,” he said, reiterating that respect for civilian life is what distinguishes democracies from the likes of Hamas. Blinken also stressed that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content