US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, answering questions from reporters on Friday at Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai, said that It’s also important to understand why the pause came to an end. It came to an end because of Hamas.”
According to Blinken, “even before the pause came to an end, it committed an atrocious terrorist attack in Jerusalem, killing three people, wounding others, including Americans. It began firing rockets before the pause had ended.” The US Secretary of State also said that Hamas “reneged on commitments it made in terms of releasing certain hostages.”
Blinken told reporters that he had three priorities during his third visit to the Middle East: “trying to see what we can do to keep getting hostages out of Gaza and out of the hands of Hamas, looking at how we can both sustain and increase the humanitarian assistance that’s getting to the people in Gaza, and also talking about the way forward and Israel’s efforts to make sure that Hamas never again has the ability to do what it did on October 7th.”
Blinken stressed that he has “made clear that after the pause it was imperative that Israel put in place clear protections for civilians and for sustaining humanitarian assistance going forward.”
“As we’ve seen just today, Israel has already moved out on parts of that, including sending out information, making it clear where people can be in safe areas in Gaza. And we’ll be looking at that going forward. It’s very, very important.,” explained the US Secretary of State.
“We remain intensely focused on getting everyone home, getting hostages back. It’s something that I also worked on today. So, we’re still at this. We’re also very much focused, as we’ve been all along, on trying to make sure that this conflict doesn’t spread, that it doesn’t escalate in other places. But we’re also using our diplomacy to look at not only what’s happening today and how we’re handling that, but also what happens the day after in Gaza and how we can get on the path to a just, lasting, and secure peace for Israelis, for Palestinians – in fact, for everyone in the region,” Blinken noted.
Asked by a reporter how he assessed Israel’s compliance with its obligations to protect Gaza civilians and what he thought about the confusion in Gaza about the location of the safe zones, Blinken said he “hasn’t yet had the opportunity to assess what exactly happened on Friday.” But he saw that information about the safe zones was starting to spread.
“I saw the plans that Israel has in a multiplicity of ways to do everything possible to protect civilians, including making sure that they have the information they need and there are ways to accommodate them. And this is going to be very important going forward. It’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely,” Blinken said.