Secretary Antony J. Blinken At a Press Availability
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good nighttime, every person. I came to Israel bearing an easy message: The United States stands with Israel and with its human beings – today, tomorrow, and each day.
In my meetings with the high minister, President Herzog, with the ministers in Israel’s newly shaped countrywide emergency government, we mentioned in element what Israel desires to shield itself, and its people, and the way America can help to meet those needs. We’re turning in on those wishes as we speak, and we can work closely and swiftly with Congress to meet them as they evolve.
This afternoon, I met with households of American citizens that Hamas has killed or taken hostage. The enormity of their discomfort, their loss, is immeasurable.
For the families of the missing, there’s an unrelenting suffering of now not knowing the destiny of their loved ones – something that I don’t assume most people can certainly understand, and truly ponder if you’re not in their shoes.
No one need to needs to endure what they’re going through. There are a lot of households like them. The United States is one of more than 30 countries in which a circle of relatives contributors, friends, and whole groups are being pressured to go through this wrenching experience due to Hamas’s disdain for human existence and basic human dignity.
We’re doing everything we are able to to steady the discharge of the hostages, working closely with our Israeli partners.
I brought with me to Israel our Deputy Special Representative for Hostage Affairs Steve Gillen, who joined my meetings with the households and could live on the floor right here to assist in the efforts to free their loved ones.
I additionally had a threat to look up close the definitely inspiring cohesion of the Israeli human beings in the wake of Hamas’s attacks once I visited one of the many sites where citizens have rapidly organized efforts to collect, kind, to distribute donations to the ones in want, along with many families who’ve been displaced from the south.
I had a threat to fulfill with a number of the volunteers – numerous of them dual U.S.-Israeli residents. One young couple instructed me how they narrowly escaped with their own lives when Hamas terrorists attacked the Supernova song pageant.
They informed me about their pals who have been lucky, who were killed at that pageant; others taken hostage or nevertheless lacking.
In our time here in Israel, everywhere we’ve gone we’ve met folks that’ve been touched in one manner or any other via Hamas’s bloody hand. A loved one, a chum, a classmate, a neighbor, a colleague – killed, maimed, lacking. We encountered a state knit collectively by means of grief, however, additionally, a kingdom united in resolve.
The United States stocks that resolve. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the humans of Israel.
From here I’ll pass directly to Jordan, in which I’ll meet with His Majesty King Abdullah, and with Palestinian Authority President Abbas.
And then over the approaching days, we’ll visit with leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Qatar.
Across each of those engagements, we’ll keep pressing nations to assist in preventing the war from spreading and to apply their leverage with Hamas to right now and unconditionally launch the hostages right.
We’ll additionally discuss how we are able to keep to make real our affirmative vision for an area that’s more peaceful, richer, extra stable, and more integrated.
In reality, this is the selection, and the selection in some approaches has been made even extra stark by the movements of Hamas on Saturday.
One direction forward is an area that comes collectively, incorporated, and normalized family members among its international locations, people operating in commonplace purpose to common advantage. More peaceful, more stable.
Then there’s the path that Hamas has shown within the stark, clean light: terror, destruction, nihilism. The choice could not be more clear. We recognize the choice that we’re making, our partners are making.
We have paintings to do to carry it through.
In all that I did nowadays, I was supported by a remarkable crew right here in Israel. It’s been doing important work in tremendously hard situations, led by means of an exceptional feed affaires, Stephanie Hallett. Stephanie is doing an exceptional activity. We also look forward to welcoming our destiny ambassador, Jack Lew, to Israel.
As many right here know, Hamas released its assault on Simchat Torah. This is the day that Jews rejoice in finishing the reading of the Torah.
This Saturday, Jews around the world will chant the first phrases of the e-book of Genesis. They’ll study that in the beginning, there was darkness; after which there has been mild.
That the primary person was alone until a companion joined them.
I’m standing right here today alongside our Israeli friends and all folks who reject terror to assist in discovering the glimmers of mild, even in this moment of deep darkness, and to make clean as that so long as there’s a United States, Israel will never be by myself.
And if I may, like, at the same time as know-how and acknowledging the splendid struggling that’s been experienced by Israelis, there’s loads of challenge in some quarters about the state of affairs in Gaza as properly – people seeking out meals in light of the cutoff.
Was that discussed in any respect in terms of the humanitarian situation in Gaza? Was there any call for easing some of these situations or for restraint, as we assume a ground offensive?
And in case you’ll allow me just one issue that’s been stated simply currently, there was a report in The Washington Post that the USA and Qatar have decided to gradually down or suspend the access that Iran has to the $6 billion that’s been positioned within the special account.
Could you assert if this is correct? And if it’s miles, ought you give an explanation for whether that is a slowdown or something more formal than that? Thanks very tons.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Great. Thanks, Shaun. So we did see images, motion pictures, that the Israeli Government shared with us. Some, I suppose, have truly already been visible in public media. Others had been new to me and, I think, new to our group.
It’s difficult to locate the right phrases. It’s past what all of us would ever want to imagine, a good deal much less absolutely see and, God forbid, enjoy. A child, a toddler, riddled with bullets.
Soldiers beheaded. Young human beings are burned alive in their cars or in their hideaway rooms. I may want to cross on, but it’s really depravity in the worst possible way.
It almost defies comprehension, and as I’ve been saying, to me, it, inside the most immediate future, hearkens returned to ISIS and some of the very matters we noticed when it went on its rampage that, fortunately, turned into stopped.
So I think for any man or woman to see this, it’s clearly beyond nearly whatever that we can recognize, and digest. And I’d just upload that while you see this, you attempt to consider – perhaps now not strive, you could assist but believe – yourself, your own family, your loved ones, your buddies, in that state of affairs, in that quandary. And perhaps the great word for it for me is overwhelming.
I think what it’s carried out is, as I said, united a country in profound grief, but additionally united a country in solve.
And it’s vital that the relaxation folks proportion that remedy. I stated this earlier: This is a second for ethical readability. This is a moment in which all of us wish to make clear that there is revulsion, disgust, and willpower, a dedication not to permit this to move forward.
So snapshots are worth 1000 words. These photos can be well worth 1,000,000.
On the humanitarian situation in Gaza, I assume it’s, first, critical to not forget a fundamental problem that makes this complex.
Hamas keeps using civilians as human shields – something that’s not new, something that they’ve usually completed – intentionally putting civilians in damage’s way to shield – to try to shield themselves, or shield their infrastructure, or protect their guns.
So that’s one of the simple information that Israel has to cope with. And of course, civilians should not be utilized in any way as the objectives of military operations. They aren’t the target of Israel’s operations.
We did talk about approaches to address the humanitarian wishes of human beings dwelling in Gaza, to guard them from damage even as Israel conducts its valid safety operations to protect itself from terrorism, and to try to ensure that this in no way takes place again.
We also talked about possibilities for the secure passage for civilians who need to leave or get out of the manner in Gaza, and that’s a verbal exchange, a discussion, that we can pursue within the coming days, together with some of the nations that we’ll be visiting. So this is important, and this is a place for attention.
With regard to the $6 billion, first, again, it’s continually worth repeating the information, due to the fact, regrettably, the facts wander off along the way.
The money that Iran amassed in financial institution bills, in this example in South Korea, for the sale of its oil changed into completed pursuant to an arrangement mounted through the preceding management,
the Trump administration. None of the price ranges that have now long passed to Qatar have definitely been spent or accessed in any way through Iran.
Indeed, finances from that account are overseen by means of the Treasury Department, can best be allotted for humanitarian goods – food, medicinal drugs, medical system – and in no way contact with Iranian arms. We have strict oversight of the finances, and we reserve the right to freeze them.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. With regard to the first question, the President’s been very clean, I’ve been very clear – we stand with Israel. We stand with Israel in its dedication to guarding its humans and defend its use.
We stand with Israel in its determination to do the whole lot viable to make sure that what occurred on Saturday never takes place once again. And in that willpower we’re, of course, as you know, supplying assistance as asked by way of Israel for its efforts.
That will keep, and we’re working closely with Congress to make sure that Israel has what it wishes to do and what it needs.
With regard to the second front, as I noted earlier, it’s our willpower and that of Israel as well that there now not be a 2d front or a 3rd front.
And we’re working as difficult as we can, working with other partners inside the area, to try to make certain that that’s the case. The President has additionally been very clean, President Biden. He’s been very clear that nobody, nation or non-state actor, must attempt to take gain of this second.
And he’s sponsored that caution with a deployment of our largest provider institution, the Gerald R. Ford, as well as, again, ensuring that Israel has what it needs and that we additionally have appropriate property in the region. Beyond that, I’m not going to take a position on destiny occasions.
QUESTION: Many human beings have likened the horrendous violence by Hamas to the assaults of the 11th of September inside the U.S., the U.S. Earned masses of goodwill after those attacks, and there have been – were many expressions of harmony for the U.S. From around the arena.
But quickly afterward, the U.S. Squandered that goodwill whilst it commenced its invasion of Iraq. Now many years onward, in retrospect, many human beings think that the maximum lasting results of the 11th of September have been the two wars that many Americans deem have been failures in hindsight. And so I marvel at what lessons would possibly you’ve got for Israel, as a friend of Israel, looking returned on the aftermath of Sept. 11.
Second, I marvel whether or not your crew has an evaluation of what Hamas’s goals had been in wearing out the attacks and whether or not it has gotten any closer to the ones desires with those assaults.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks, Ed. First, allow me to say this, in regards to 9-11 – if you examine this in percentage to the size of Israel’s population, that is equal to ten nine/11s. That’s how huge and the way devastating this assault has been.
And of the path, each of those situations could be very exclusive and it’s critical to keep that in mind. Of path, we’re continually trying to draw the lessons from our – from beyond enjoy, as they’ll or might not be applicable to what we or our companions are doing now.
And of course, we’re in very close communication with Israel approximately the work it challenges, as I stated, to make sure it can protect itself, protect its residents, and to the quality of its capability to ensure that this doesn’t show up once more. Those are the targets.
And, again, I’ll leave the operational details to Israel and absolutely say once more, that as we’ve got these discussions, we’re searching at past experiences, along with many past stories greater immediate to this venture, along with in Gaza and which include inside the place.
With regard to the dreams of Hamas, I suppose that could be a question mostly on which I ought to speculate however no longer provide you with – any form of clear and definitive answer.
There are some feasible causes. We have no longer heard from them what their goals are. And I actually have to tell you that during many methods the best clarification may be the maximum compelling: that is pure evil.
There can be 2D or third-order pastimes. For instance – I’ve noted this earlier – we’ve been engaged, as you recognize, in seeking to aid and advance the possibility of normalization among Israel and Saudi Arabia and other international locations that do not yet have normalized relations with Israel, something this is very tough,
very hard, however also very feasible, and something that would have a profound impact on the region, on the nations in query and on the location – an area that’s been in turmoil for such a lot of a long time that through normalization, thru more integration then has a course to a good deal greater stability, lots extra peace, a lot greater possibility for everybody within the location. Now, who opposes normalization? Hamas, Hizballah, Iran.
I think that speaks volumes as well.