Blinken Stresses Importance of ‘How’ Israel Responds in Gaza

Oct 12, 2023 5:37 pm | Ticker, Virtual Jerusalem

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced his concern to Israel regarding the upcoming siege of Gaza. In his remarks made during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tel Aviv’s Ministry of Defence, Blinken reinforced the US’s unwavering support for Israel and its right to self-defense, but emphasized that the manner in which Israel exercises this right is significant.

Blinken, recalling his Jewish heritage and family that suffered or perished in the Holocaust, drew attention to the profound distress the massacres and attacks by Hamas caused for the Jewish community worldwide. He stated, “For Jews all over, the echoes of Hamas’ actions are deeply unsettling.” He further condemned the actions, emphasizing the lack of any justifiable excuse for such atrocities and the urgent need for a clear moral stand in these troubling times.

Drawing a comparison, Blinken noted the parallels between the “inhumanity” of Hamas and the extremist actions of ISIS.

Despite the support for Israel’s defense, Blinken also pointed out the onus on democratic nations to maintain a higher moral standard. “Our respect for human life and dignity is foundational to our identity,” he remarked. He emphasized the importance of avoiding civilian casualties and the collective grief for the innocent lives lost from all backgrounds and religions.

Blinken acknowledged Israel’s duty to defend its citizens and preempt future attacks. Still, he stressed the importance of the methods employed, echoing President Joe Biden’s earlier statements on Israel’s adherence to the rules of warfare.

The escalating violence has taken a heavy toll, with casualties crossing 1,300 on both the Israeli and Gazan sides after a series of attacks and counterattacks. As many as 24 American citizens are reported dead in the Hamas attacks.

In the joint press briefing, Prime Minister Netanyahu drew a firm line against Hamas, equating them to ISIS. He expressed strong reservations against any form of dialogue with Hamas, urging for global sanctions against those who engage with them.

Blinken’s visit and subsequent remarks are set against the backdrop of a strong commitment by the US to support Israel’s defense. The US has begun shipments of military support to Israel, with promises of more in the pipeline and congressional backing for a big boost in aid. Blinken affirmed the bipartisan support in the US Congress for Israel’s security and pledged continued efforts for the safe return of hostages taken by Hamas. He further indicated his intention to engage in intensive diplomacy in the region to prevent further escalation of the conflict.