When Hamas unleashed a devastating attack on Israel on October 7, it started a war. And as usual, it’s the civilian populations on both sides that are paying the price. Thousands of people from more than 30 countries have been killed and wounded in the initial attacks by Hamas, and as a result of Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
Before the bombing began, Israel clearly warned Gaza’s civilian population to evacuate. Hamas, however, commanded that people remain in their homes, and blocked roads to prevent them from leaving. Clearly, the civilian population was to serve as a human shield for the militants.
“We know Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, and Palestinian civilians are not to blame for the carnage committed by Hamas,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Palestinian civilians must be protected.”
The Gaza Strip, which is a 41-kilometer-long and 6- to 12-kilometer-wide strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, has a total area of 365 square kilometers. It is home to more than 2,375,000 people. About a million Palestinians have been displaced there with no way of leaving Gaza, and that means that humanitarian aid is crucial to their survival.
“We continue to coordinate closely with Egypt, Israel, and partners across the region as well as with the United Nations to build mechanisms that will enable sustained humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza without benefiting Hamas or any other terrorist group,” said Secretary Blinken.
“The United States has committed an additional 100 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, bringing the total aid that we provided to the Palestinian people over the past two and a half years to more than $1.6 billion,” he said. “That makes the United States the largest single-country donor by far to the Palestinian people. We call on all countries, particularly those with the greatest capacity to give, to join us in meeting the UN’s appeal for the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
“At the heart of our efforts to save innocent lives in this conflict and in every conflict, for that matter, is our core belief that every civilian life is equally valuable,” said Secretary Blinken. “There is no hierarchy when it comes to protecting civilian lives. A civilian is a civilian is a civilian, no matter his or her nationality, ethnicity, age, gender, faith.”