Last Updated: November 03, 2023, 18:00 IST
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated Friday that Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself as it continues to pummel the Gaza Strip with an air and ground assault. “Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself… to make sure that this October 7 never happens again,” Blinken told journalists as he met Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.
Israel launched a massive retaliatory assault against Gaza’s Hamas rulers after its fighters carried out the October 7 attack which Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people. More than 9,200 people have been killed in Gaza, the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said.
Soon after Blinken’s arrival he held separate meetings with Herzog and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken, who is on his second tour to the Middle East since the war erupted, urged Israel to protect civilians who are caught in the crossfire and to “bring assistance to those who so desperately need it”.
Prior to his arrival in Israel, Blinken said he would seek “concrete steps” from Israel to ensure harm to Palestinian civilians is reduced. “We will be talking about concrete steps that can and should be taken to minimise harm to men, women and children in Gaza,” Blinken had told reporters before departing for Israel. “This is something that the United States is committed to.”
“When I see a Palestinian child — a boy, a girl — pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, that hits me in the gut as much as seeing a child in Israel or anywhere else,” Blinken said. “So this is something that we have an obligation to respond to, and we will.”
US President Joe Biden has promised full support and ramped-up military aid to Israel for its campaign in Gaza, but in a visible shift of tone has also voiced empathy for Palestinian suffering which has stoked anger in parts of the world. “I think we need a pause,” Biden said on Thursday at a campaign event.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later clarified what such a pause would entail. “A humanitarian pause… is temporary, localised and focused, focused on a particular objective or objectives, humanitarian aid in, people out,” Kirby told reporters.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)