Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Thursday, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the “war Cabinet,” a group formed as part of the new emergency government to respond to the Hamas attack. The significance of Blinken’s visit is to demonstrate solidarity and support for Israel. He is also in the region to discuss the possibility of safe passage for Americans and other foreign nationals in Gaza.
The ongoing conflict has resulted in significant casualties, with more than 1,200 Israelis and 1,350 Palestinians killed, thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced. Blinken reported that the number of Americans killed by Hamas has risen to 25, with at least 17 missing. Some U.S. citizens are also held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
During their meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu urged that Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel, and other countries, should be treated similarly to ISIS, with no leaders or countries offering them shelter and advocating for sanctions.
Antony Blinken emphasized his connection to the region as a Jew, recounting his family’s history. He stated that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people’s national aspirations and called for a unified condemnation of the group, highlighting that Hamas’s agenda is to destroy Israel and target Jewish individuals.
While acknowledging Israel’s ability to defend itself, Blinken assured that the U.S. supports Israel. The U.S. has already supplied Israel with ammunition and interceptors for the Iron Dome missile defense system, with additional shipments on the way.
Blinken stressed the importance of minimizing civilian casualties while affirming Israel’s right to self-defense and efforts to prevent future attacks by Hamas.
Additionally, Blinken welcomed the formation of the new emergency government in Israel, which came about in response to the crisis triggered by the Hamas attack. The inclusion of opposition member Benny Gantz in the government reflects the severity of the situation.
Furthermore, Blinken is expected to meet with the families of U.S. citizens who were affected by the conflict, and he will also travel to other countries in the region, including Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, as part of U.S. diplomatic efforts related to the Gaza conflict.