Blinken: Israel has right to defend itself against ISIS-like Hamas attacks

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The US believes that while Israel has the right to defend itself against the Palestinian militant group Hamas which is acting like terrorist group ISIS, it also has an obligation to ensure civilians are out of harm’s way, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Al Arabiya in an interview.

Blinken emphasized that Israel had the right to defend itself but insisted that it must take every precaution to ensure civilians were not harmed and that those who need assistance can get it.

The top US diplomat compared the “atrocities” committed by Hamas to that of terrorist group ISIS. He stressed: “No country can accept the proposition that terrorists can come in, slaughter, and I use the word very advisedly, slaughter thousands of its citizens… No country can tolerate this. So, Israel, as I said, has the right to defend itself. In fact, it has the obligation to defend itself.”

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However, Blinken added: “We believe that civilians should not suffer because of the depravity of Hamas and among other things that means that they should have food, water, medicine, [and] all the basic essentials that they need, and that's exactly what we're working on today.”

Palestinian man Mohammad Abu Daqa, who survived Israeli strikes that killed 8 family members and still searches for three others who are still trapped under the rubble of his house, reacts with a relative in front of the ruins in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 15, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinian man Mohammad Abu Daqa, who survived Israeli strikes that killed 8 family members and still searches for three others who are still trapped under the rubble of his house, reacts with a relative in front of the ruins in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 15, 2023. (Reuters)

He condemned Hamas’ actions: “Hamas makes sure that all of its critical leaders, that its command centers, that its weapons, its ammunitions, are all located in residential areas, in residential buildings, or buried underneath hospitals, schools, and supermarkets. They know they are using the Palestinians of Gaza as human shields, and that too is disgraceful.”

He added that the US was focused on ensuring that humanitarian assistance can be delivered to those who need it in Gaza and that civilians can get out of harm’s way.

Ambulances carrying victims of Israeli strikes crowd the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on October 15, 2023. (AFP)
Ambulances carrying victims of Israeli strikes crowd the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on October 15, 2023. (AFP)

Asked about the proposition of relocating Gaza residents to the Sinai Peninsula, Blinken said: “I've heard directly from Palestinian Authority President Abbas and from virtually every other leader that I've talked to in the region that that idea is a non-starter and so we do not support it. We believe that people should be able to stay in Gaza, their home; but we also want to make sure that they're out of harm's way and that they're getting the assistance they need.”

Blinken addressed the concern of the conflict spreading to other countries in the region: “I think this is a concern across the region. Pretty much everyone that I spoke to is concerned about the conflict spreading and determined that it not spread… No one, state or otherwise, should try to take advantage of this moment. And we have sent two of our aircraft carrier groups to the Eastern Mediterranean and to the region, not as a provocation but as a deterrent to make clear to anyone who would think about doing something, don't do it.”

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