Blinken to visit Israel this week to affirm US support amid Hamas attacks

Secretary of State is due to arrive Thursday as violence continues across Israel and the Gaza Strip

John Bowden
Washington DC
Tuesday 10 October 2023 22:28 BST
Biden reassures US support for Israel after third call with Netanyahu

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is being dispatched to affirm the Biden administration’s support for Israel as the latter faces shocking violence perpetrated by Hamas militants and has vowed an unprecedented armed response.

Mr Blinken is due to touch down on Thursday, where he will speak to officials in the Israeli government about the US’s plans to shore up financial and military aid to the Israeli military. His arrival will follow President Joe Biden’s forceful remarks in support of Israel and the country’s right to respond with military force to the murder of civilians and attacks on Israeli security forces over the past few days.

At a State Department briefing on Tuesday, spokesman Matthew Miller announced the secretary’s travel plans while facing a barrage of questions about both Hamas’s attack and Israel’s response. Mr Miller repeatedly affirmed the US’s support for the idea that Israel had the right to respond while maintaining that the Biden administration “expects” Israel’s government to follow international law as it does so.

He did not, however, engage with repeated questions on the issue of dehumanising and racist language by some Israeli officials, including a comment from the country’s defence chief referring to Palestinians as “human animals”.

Mr Miller also avoided answering direct, aggressive queries about why the Biden administration is comfortable releasing any money to Iran given that the State Department readily acknowledges that Iran funds Hamas and other terrorist groups — even if not through the specific funds that the US recently released to Iran via Qatar.

The State Department spokesman instead forcefully reiterated the disgust and horror that US officials and many other Americans have expressed specifically regarding the tactics of Hamas, which is alleged now by Israeli authorities to have deliberately targeted children and the elderly during a murderous rampage that also included a slaughter of attendees at a music festival.

Upon being questioned about the scope of the Israeli response, including the cutoff of electricity and water to Gaza, he demurred and reiterated that the US “expects” Israel to follow international law.

Mr Biden on Tuesday spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, on the phone before his address to reporters. A readout of that call is expected Tuesday evening.

On Monday, the US president joined with the leaders of France, Italy, the UK and Germany in a rare joint statement that condemned “Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism”.

Mr Miller reiterated many of the sentiments in that statement, including the president’s urging that “this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in