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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv amid Israel-Hamas conflict
Tel Aviv: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv along with a team of officials, Israel-based i24 News English reported. His visit to Tel Aviv comes amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas after the latter launched an attack on October 7.
The US officials accompanying Blinken include his counsellor Derek Chollet, his Deputy Chief of Staff Tom Sullivan, US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steve Gillen.
During his visit, Blinken will hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Brigadier General Gal Hirsch and other Israeli officials. After concluding his visit to Israel, Blinken will meet with Jordan's King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Abbas in Amman, i24 News English reported.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his departure from the US, Blinken said, "We are heading, as you know, to Israel, and I'm going with a very simple and clear message on behalf of the President of the United States and on behalf of the American people, and that is that the United States has Israel's back. We have the back of the Israeli people. We have their back today. We'll have it tomorrow. We will have it every day."
Blinken said that he would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Issac Herzog and other senior officials in Israel. He stated that he is looking forward to meeting the US embassy team in Israel. He said that the US is determined to provide everything that Israel needs to defend itself.
He further said, "We're determined to make sure that Israel gets everything it needs to defend itself, and provide for the security of its people. Already, significant military assistance requested by Israel is on the way. That's on top of everything that we've been doing for years, including with the memorandum of understanding that was negotiated by President Obama, to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself."
The death toll in Israel since the Hamas attack has jumped to 1,300 and some 3300 have been injured, including 28 in critical condition and 350 in serious condition, The Times of Israel reported citing Hebrew media reports. The fate of an estimated 150 people abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip during the attack by Hamas is still unclear, the report said.