Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Hamas is preventing Americans and other foreign nationals from exiting the Gaza Strip, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.

“The ball is in the Hamas’ court in terms of letting people who want to leave — civilians from third countries including Americans,” Blinken told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

When pressed about whether Hamas was preventing Americans from leaving Gaza, the US’s top diplomat responded, “That’s correct.

“We have US personnel on the other side of the border in Egypt, consular personell” he said, declining to outright specify whether any US personnel is presently in Gaza.

Blinken declined to say whether Hamas had taken American hostages or if other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, had some of them.

President Biden spoke on the phone Saturday with freed Americans Judith Raanan, 59, and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie, who were recently released from captivity in Gaza.

Israel is expected to mount a ground invasion of Gaza imminently.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly supported Israel and its right to defend itself against Hamas.CBS News
An Israeli soldier patrols on a road between Sderot and the Gaza strip.HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has called for a temporary cease-fire to make time for humanitarian support to get into the property stricken Gaza Strip.

Blinken stopped short of calling for that publicly but suggested Israel has a history of relenting on its military bombardment to make room for humanitarian assistance.

“We’ve seen first of all that in order to get assistance in, we’ve had that happen,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have sustained delivery of food, medicine, water and things that people need.

“At the same time … we have to remember Israel has to do everything it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said of the Hamas heinous assault earlier this month. “Freezing things in place where they are now would allow Hamas to remain where it is and to repeat what it’s done.”

A Palestinian man describes some of the damage from an Israeli strike.Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry claims that at least 1,524 Palestinian children have been killed in the conflict so far. US officials have questioned the reliability of Hamas’ casualty estimates.

“When I see the pictures of young children who have lost their lives in this conflict of Hamas’ making — whoever they are, wherever they are, whether they’re Palestinians, whether they’re Israelis, whether they’re they’re Jews or Muslims, it hits me … right in the heart,” Blinken said.

Moderator Margaret Brennan also pressed Blinken about an interview CBS conducted with Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouti who wished President Biden said, “Enough is enough” with respect to Israel’s retaliation.

” ‘Enough is enough’ should have been the case with Hamas two weeks ago. It would be good to hear the entire world speak clearly and with one voice about the actions of Hamas,” Blinken said.

Former US hostages Natalie Shoshana Raanan (in gray jacket) and her mom Judith Tai Raanan were released by Hamas at an undisclosed location.Government of Israel/AFP via Getty Images

Blinken juxtaposed Hamas’ vision of “death, destruction, nihilism, darkness” with the US-backed vision of having the Israelis and Palestinians “work together, go to school together, do business together [and] travel to each other’s country.”

Hamas launched its surprise attack Oct. 7 against Israel, which declared war in response.

More than 1,400 Israelis have been slaughtered in the war so far, and at least 31 Americans have been killed, with about a dozen unaccounted for, including some who are being held hostage.

President Biden has been pushing for a supplemental aid package to help Israel.

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The post Hamas blocking Americans from leaving Gaza: Blinken appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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