Blinken reaffirmed that the US is also working closely with Israel to secure the release of the hostages taken by Hamas…reports Asian Lite News
Speaking after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said that he is “incredibly grateful” to be back in Israel, “in this incredibly difficult moment, for this nation, but in fact for the entire world.”
Blinken told a personal story as a Jew. He tells of his grandfather fleeing pogroms in Russia, and of his stepfather surviving concentration camps in the Holocaust, The Times of Israel reported.
“I understand on a personal level the harrowing echoes that Hamas’s massacres carry for Israeli Jews, indeed for Jews everywhere,” he added.
“I also come before you as a husband and father of young children. It’s impossible for me to look at the photos of families killed, such as the mother, father, and three small children murdered as they sheltered in their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, and not think of my own children,” he said.
“This was just one of Hamas’s countless acts of terror in a litany of brutality and inhumanity that, yes, brings to mind the worst of ISIS,” Blinken added.
“Babies slaughtered, bodies desecrated, young people burned alive, women raped, parents executed in front of their children, children in front of their parents.”
“How are we even to understand this, to digest this?”
“And yet, at the same time that we’ve been shocked by the depravity of Hamas, we’ve also been inspired by the bravery of Israel’s citizens. The grandfather who drove over an hour to a Kibbutz under siege armed only with a pistol and rescued his kids and grandkids,” Blinken said.
“The mother who died shielding her teenage son with her body, giving her life to save his. Giving him life for a second time. The volunteer security teams on the kibbutzes who swiftly rallied to defend their friends and neighbours despite being heavily outnumbered.”
He also notes the “remarkable solidarity” of the Israeli people, the long lines of people giving blood, the reservists who flew home from abroad, the people who opened their homes to fellow citizens displaced from the south, The Times of Israel reported.
“The people of Israel have long and rightly prided themselves on their self-reliance, on their ability to defend themselves even when the odds are stacked against them,” Blinken continues.
“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. We will always be there by your side,” he says.
“That’s the message that President Biden delivered to the Prime Minister from the moment that this crisis began.”
Blinken welcomes the creation of the national emergency government, and the “unity and resolve that it reflects across Israel’s society.”
“We are delivering on our word,” says Blinken.
“Supplying ammunition interceptors to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome, along other defence materiel. The first shipments of US military support have already arrived in Israel, and more is on the way. As Israel’s defence needs evolve, we will work with Congress to make sure that they are met. And I can tell you there is overwhelming, overwhelming bipartisan support in our Congress for Israel’s security.”
Blinken repeats America’s “crystal clear” warning against any and all other actors — state or non-state — thinking of taking advantage of the crisis to attack Israel: “Don’t. The United States has Israel’s back.”
The US has deployed the world’s largest aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean, and bolstered the presence of US fighter aircraft in the region and provided Israel with other support, he says.
He affirms that the US is also working closely with Israel to secure the release of the hostages taken by Hamas, The Times of Israel reported.
He also added that the US is continually engaging in “intensive diplomacy throughout the region to prevent the conflict from spreading”.
Blinken criticises world leaders in the past for equivocating when it comes to terrorist attacks against Israel.
“There is no excuse, there is no justification for these atrocities,” he stressed. “This is, this must be, a moment for moral clarity.”
The failure to unambiguously condemn terrorism, he says, puts at risk people in Israel and everywhere, he said, noting that people from 36 countries were killed or are missing from the Hamas attacks.
“Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas — no region has escaped Hamas’ bloody reach. Anyone who wants peace and justice, must condemn Hamas’s reign of terror.”
“We know Hamas doesn’t represent the Palestinian people” or their legitimate aspirations.
“We know Hamas rules repressively and dedicates the resources it has to terror tunnels and rockets… We know Hamas does not stand for the future the Palestinians want for themselves and their children. Hamas has only one agenda — to destroy Israel and to murder Jews,” he says.
“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 repeats the exhortation that democracies must take every precaution to avoid causing civilian casualties.
“As the Prime Minister and I discussed, how Israel does this matters. We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for different standards even when it is difficult, and holding ourselves to account when we fall short. Our humanity, the value that we place on human life and human dignity, that’s what makes us who we are. And we count them among our greatest strengths. That is why it is so important to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians. And that is why we mourn the loss of every innocent life — civilians of every faith, every nationality, who have been killed.”
The death toll continues to rise, he said. And among those, “at least 25 American citizens were killed,” Blinken said.
Again invoking his own family’s Holocaust experiences, Blinken concludes: “In this moment, where evil, hatred and madness have once more taken so many innocent lives, we must stand together, and resolve to confront what is worst among humanity with what is best. We must provide an alternative to the vision of violence and fear, nihilism and terror, presented by Hamas. That is what the US will do, standing with Israel, working together with its people and all those in this region who remain committed to the vision of a more peaceful, more integrated, more secure and more prosperous Middle East.”