Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on countries around the world to condemn the deadly surprise attacks by militant group Hamas, saying this is a moment for “moral clarity.”
Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Netanyahu thanked Blinken for coming to Israel in the middle of the crisis and for America’s support, while giving an emotional account of the attacks that have killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
“The burning of people alive, the beheadings, the kidnappings of a young boy not only kidnapped, molested, hurt, but the attack and the sickening display of celebrating these horrors, the celebration and glorification of evil. President Biden was absolutely correct in calling this sheer evil,” Netanyahu said.
Blinken, who arrived earlier in the day, began with a personal aside, saying he had come to Israel at this critical time as a Jew, and as a husband and a father.
“You’ve heard the prime minister say this must be a moment for moral clarity.
The failure to unambiguously condemn terrorism puts at risk not only people in Israel, but people everywhere,” he said.
Blinken said the Hamas attacks affect the whole world.
“Look at what just happened — individuals from 36 countries killed or missing in the aftermath of the heinous attacks. Europe, Asia, Africa the Americas — no region has escaped Hamas’ bloody reach,” Blinken said.
He added that 25 Americans have been killed in the attacks, and that number may well rise. He will hold talks in the region on how to win the release of an estimated 150 hostages held by Hamas.
Blinken’s visit to Israel is the first leg in what is expected to be a diplomatic push to several countries to prevent the violence from spilling over into other countries. He will head to Amman, Jordan, later Thursday to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II.
Blinken is also set to meet with both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Abdullah in Jordan on Friday. A senior U.S. official said Blinken would also travel Friday to meet with officials in Qatar.
Plans are still in flux, but Blinken may also visit Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. He is expected to hold talks on establishing a humanitarian corridor so that some 2 million Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza can leave safely while Israel seeks to destroy Hamas’ operating capacity there.
“Israel has the right, indeed the obligation, to defend itself. How Israel does this, matters. We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by placing value on human life. So, it is important to take every precaution. We mourn the loss of every life,” Blinken said alongside Netanyahu on Thursday.