US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel and Jordan from October 11-13 in a show of support for the Jewish state amid its escalating war with Hamas.
The secretary is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday. In both countries, the top US diplomat will meet with senior officials to discuss measures to bolster Israel’s security and underscore the US’s unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself, according to the State Department.
Blinken told reporters before boarding a plane Wednesday that he plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, and other senior officials, and is looking forward to seeing US embassy teams in the country.
Blinken will follow up on the discussions that he and President Joe Biden have been having with their Israeli counterparts since the launch of Hamas’ attack on Israel.
“It will be a message of solidarity and support,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Tuesday during a press briefing. “We’re there to support them as they fight against these brutal terrorist attacks, to talk about what additional assistance we can provide them.”
The secretary will also use this opportunity to reiterate his condolences for the victims of the attacks against Israel and condemn them in the strongest terms, the State Department said.
“We will be reiterating, reaffirming the very strong message that President Biden has delivered to any country or any party that might try to take advantage of this situation, and that message is ‘Don’t’,” Blinken told reporters.
The trip will also focus on the issue of American citizens who have been missing since the beginning of the Hamas attack. The number of US nationals killed in the Israel-Hamas war since Saturday has reached 22 as of Wednesday and will continue to grow, according to Blinken.
On Saturday, the Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise large-scale attack on Israel, prompting the latter to declare a state of war the following day. On Monday, Israel put the Gaza Strip under full blockade, with no food, water, gas, or electricity supplies. Both Israel and Palestine have so far reported hundreds of dead and thousands of injured as a result of the escalation.
From the very beginning of the attack on Israel by Hamas, the United States declared its full unwavering support for Israel and its readiness to provide its closest ally in the Middle East with everything it needs to protect itself.
Within 24 hours of the start of the escalation, the United States decided to send the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. On Tuesday, the Pentagon confirmed considering sending a second carrier strike group to the region in a show of support. The move prompted criticism from Russia and Turkey, which have warned it will only exacerbate the situation in the region.
At the same time, the US underscores it does not plan to have boots on the ground or to take any military action to support Israel in repelling the ongoing attacks.