Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken press availability in Tel Aviv, Israel

Source U.S Department of State

Antony J.Blinken, Secretary Of State


Media www.rajawalisiber.comSECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good evening, everyone.  I came to Israel bearing a simple message:  The United States stands with Israel and with its people – today, tomorrow, every day.  In my meetings with the prime minister, with President Herzog, with the ministers in Israel’s newly formed national emergency government, we discussed in detail what Israel needs to defend itself, its people, and how the United States can help to meet those needs.  We’re delivering on those needs as we speak, and we will work closely and swiftly with Congress to meet them as they evolve.

This afternoon, I met with families of American citizens that Hamas has killed or taken hostage.  The enormity of their anguish, their loss, is immeasurable.  For the families of the missing, there’s an unrelenting agony of not knowing the fate of their loved ones – something that I don’t think most of us can truly understand, truly contemplate, if you’re not in their shoes.  No one should have to endure what they’re going through.  There are so many families like them.  The United States is one of more than 30 countries where family members, friends, entire communities are being forced to go through this wrenching experience because of Hamas’s disdain for human life and basic human dignity.

We’re doing everything we can to secure the release 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 families and will stay on the ground here to support the efforts to free their loved ones.

I also had a chance to see up close the genuinely inspiring solidarity of the Israeli people in the wake of Hamas’s attacks when I visited one of the many sites where citizens have swiftly organized efforts to collect, to sort, to distribute donations to those in need, including many families who have been displaced from the south.  I had a chance to meet with some of the volunteers – several of them dual U.S.-Israeli citizens.  One young couple told me how they narrowly escaped with their own lives when Hamas terrorists attacked the Supernova music festival.  They told me about their friends who were not fortunate, who were killed at that festival; others taken hostage or still missing.

In our time here in Israel, everywhere we’ve gone we’ve met people who’ve been touched in one way or another by Hamas’s bloody hand.  A loved one, a friend, a classmate, a neighbor, a colleague – killed, maimed, missing.  We encountered a nation knit together by grief, but also a nation united in resolve.  The United States shares that resolve.  We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel.

From here I’ll go on to Jordan, where I’ll meet with His Majesty King Abdullah, and with Palestinian Authority President Abbas.  And then over the coming days we’ll visit with leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Qatar.

Across each of these engagements, we’ll continue pressing countries to help prevent the conflict from spreading, and to use their leverage with Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the hostages.  We’ll also discuss how we can continue to make real our affirmative vision for a region that’s more peaceful, more prosperous, more secure, more integrated.  And in fact, that is the choice, and the choice in some ways has been made even more stark by the actions of Hamas on Saturday.

One path forward is a region that comes together, integrated, normalized relations among its countries, people working in common purpose to common benefit.  More peaceful, more stable.  Then there’s the path that Hamas has shown in the stark, clear light: terror, destruction, nihilism.  The choice could not be more clear.  We know the choice that we’re making, our partners are making.  We have work to do to carry it through.

In all that I did today, I was supported by an exceptional team here in Israel.  It’s been doing crucial work in incredibly difficult conditions, led by a remarkable charge d’affaires, Stephanie Hallett.  Stephanie is doing an extraordinary job.  We also look forward to welcoming our future ambassador, Jack Lew, to Israel.

As many here know, Hamas launched its attack on Simchat Torah.  This is the day that Jews celebrate finishing the reading of the Torah.  This Saturday, Jews around the world will chant the first words of the book of Genesis.  They’ll read that in the beginning, there was darkness; and then there was light.  That the first person was alone until a partner joined them.

I’m standing here today alongside our Israeli friends and all those who reject terror to help find the glimmers of light, even in this moment of deep darkness, and to make clear as that as long as there’s a United States, Israel will never be alone.

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