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Margaret Brennan presses Blinken over US not calling for cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war

CBS “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan on Sunday pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken over why the U.S. is not calling for a temporary cease-fire between Israel and the militant group Hamas in the midst of a deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. In response, the State Department head emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself.

Blinken argued “no country can be expected to tolerate” Hamas’s bloody massacre against Israel, which began on Oct. 7 and has killed 1,400 Israelis, including hundreds of civilians in their homes, at a bus stop and at a music festival earlier this month. Blinken stressed that Israel has a right and “even the obligation” to defend itself to ensure such attacks don’t happen again.

“So, let’s talk about how they do it. You’re right to lay out just how absolutely horrible that attack was two weeks ago,” Brennan responded to Blinken, while pointing to UNICEF’s estimate that 1,524 children have been killed in the Gaza Strip amid heavy bombardment by Israel since Oct. 7. “Why isn’t the U.S. calling for at least a temporary cease-fire?”

“Margaret, when I hear the stories, when I see the pictures of young children who have lost their lives in this conflict of Hamas’s making — whoever they are, wherever they are, whether they’re Palestinians, whether they’re Israelis, whether … they’re Jews or Muslims — it hits me, and I know it hits virtually everyone right in the heart,” Blinken responded.

“And that’s why it’s so important to do everything possible to protect them, and and why it’s so important to do everything possible to get assistance to those who need it. Food, medicine, water,” he continued.

But Brennan interrupted Blinken to reiterate her question, “So why not ask for at least a temporary pause in the bombing … as was proposed at the U.N. earlier this week?” Blinken responded that humanitarian assistance had finally made its way into Gaza on Saturday for the first time since the war began.

“We want to make sure that we have sustained delivery of food, medicine, water, the things that people need. At the same time, I said something a minute ago that — that we have to — we have to remember. Israel has to do everything it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Blinken said. “Freezing things in place where they are now would allow Hamas to remain where it is and to repeat what it’s done sometime in the future. No country could accept that.”

Brennan again pressed, referencing a Palestinian politician who asked a CBS correspondent reporting in the region why President Biden didn’t tell Israel “enough is enough” when he visited Tel Aviv last week.

“‘Enough is enough’ should have been the case with — with Hamas two weeks ago. It would be good to hear the entire world speaking clearly, and with one voice, about the actions that Hamas took, about the slaughter of people, about the fact that that should be absolutely intolerable, unacceptable to anyone, anywhere, any country, any people,” Blinken responded.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas — a militant group that the U.S. and other countries have recognized as a terrorist organization — has raged for more than two weeks since Hamas’s deadly surprise attack.

Israeli forces quickly responded with a bombardment of Gaza that has so far killed more than 4,600 Palestinians and injured more than 14,000 others, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported Sunday.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepened last week following Israel’s siege on food, water, electricity and medicine, prompting calls for a temporary cease-fire to allow civilians in Gaza to leave amid the violence.

Israel ordered the evacuation of more than 1.1 million Palestinians over a week ago to travel to the southern half of the Gaza Strip last week ahead of an anticipated ground assault. However, many people in Gaza said Israel still attacked that portion of the enclave. Hamas has told residents not to leave and to stay in their homes. 

Biden visited Tel Aviv last week to meet with Israeli leaders and families impacted by the ongoing violence and to reiterate the U.S.’s support for Israel. 

While there, Biden announced an agreement to allow humanitarian aid to move from Egypt to Gaza and confirmed the U.S. will fund $100 million to assist those living in Gaza and the West Bank. Trucks carrying aid have since entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing — Gaza’s only connection to Egypt — which had shut down in the wake of Israeli airstrikes. 

Source: The Hill

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