Conflicts & War

Blinken: US will always defend Israel but calls for protection of civilians

Jerusalem, Oct 12 (EFE).- The United States secretary of state Antony Blinken on Thursday reiterated his country’s unequivocal support for Israel.

Blinken was speaking during a joint press conference with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a brutal war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip, entered its sixth day.

“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.

More than 1,300 people have died in Israel and over 3,200 have been wounded. Some 5,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza in recent days.

The assault on Saturday also saw more than 100 hostages taken.

Israeli airstrikes, which have razed entire neighborhoods in Gaza, have claimed at least 1,300 lives and wounded more than 6,000.

The US chief of diplomacy addressed the “harrowing” accounts of Hamas’ assault on Saturday, which he called “a litany of brutality, and inhumanity.”

“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?,” he said.

Blinken also confirmed that 25 Americans have been killed in Israel in recent days.

He said Hamas, which launched an unprecedented land, sea and air attack on Israel on Saturday, “has only one agenda – to destroy Israel and to murder Jews.”

“We know Hamas didn’t commit these heinous acts with the interests of Palestinian people in mind. We know Hamas does not stand for the future the Palestinians want for themselves and for their children,” Blinken said.

While the US diplomat agreed Israel “has the right, indeed the obligation to defend itself and to ensure that this never happens again,” he said “how Israel does this matters.”

Israel has been urged by the international community to use restraint in its campaign, which has included a total siege of Gaza Strip, where the civilian population has been left without water or electricity, while medical supplies are also fast running out.

“We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard, even when it’s difficult, and holding ourselves to account when we fall short,” Blinken said.

He urged Israel “to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians. And that’s why we mourn the loss of every innocent life, civilians of every faith, every nationality who have been killed.”

Netanyahu, who spoke in Hebrew and English, said that Blinken’s visit is another example of “unequivocal US support for Israel.”

He stressed that “Hamas has proven itself to be an enemy of civilization” with the massacre of young people at an open-air music festival and the slaughter of entire families, among other atrocities.

“(US) President (Joe) Biden was absolutely correct in calling this sheer evil,” Netanyahu said, equating Hamas with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

“And just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. They should be spit out from the community of nations. No leader should meet them. No country should harbor them. And those that do should be sanctioned,” the Israeli prime minister said.

He also praised Blinken and the US for their “moral clarity” in the face of Hamas’ tactics.

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