Blinken vows US support for Israel ahead of possible ground operation as he confirms 25 American citizens among those killed in Hamas attacks.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv Thursday with a message of solidarity for the Israeli people. His visit is seen as underscoring American backing for Israel’s retaliation against Hamas just five days after the country suffered it's largest ever terrorist attack.
“You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourselves, but as long as America exists you will never have to,. We will always be there by your side," Blinken said after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Blinken has confirmed that at least 25 US citizens were among those killed in the Hamas attacks.
Blinken is to meet Friday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose authority is confined to parts of the occupied West Bank, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has vowed to “crush” Hamas after the militants stormed into the country’s south on Saturday and massacred hundreds of people.
"Hamas is ISIS and just as ISIS was crushed so too will Hamas be crushed," he said. "They should be spit out of the community of nations, no leader should meet them, no country should harbour them and those that do should be sanctioned."
The Israeli military says more than 1,300 people, including 222 soldiers, have been killed in Israel, while the Palestinian Health Ministry puts the death toll in Gaza at more than 1,400.