On October 8, Hamas launched a surprise land, air, and sea attack from the Gaza Strip on Israeli civilians. The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, including at least 14 Americans. “The United States,” said President Joe Biden, “unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Hamas onslaught “the worst attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War in 1973,” almost exactly 50 years ago. “But there’s also a big difference,” he stated on NBC television’s “Meet the Press” program.
“That was a state-on-state conflict, army against army with clear front lines. This is a massive terrorist attack targeting Israeli civilians, gunning people down in the streets of their towns, gunning them down in their homes, dragging Israelis - men, women, and children - across the border with Gaza. A Holocaust survivor in a wheelchair, women and children - all being taken hostage,” he said.
A senior U.S. Defense Department official said Hamas has committed “ISIS-level savagery” against Israeli citizens, with “houses burned to the ground, [and] young people massacred at music festivals.” He said the Defense Department is “working as fast as possible to provide critically needed munitions of various types and other equipment” to Israel. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is sailing toward Israel.
With regard to Iran’s potential role in the Hamas attack, Secretary Blinken said, “[W]e don’t have anything that shows us that Iran was directly involved in this attack ... but that’s something we’re looking at very carefully, and we’ve got to see where the facts lead.”
“But we do know that Iran’s had a long relationship with Hamas, long support. It’s one of the reasons that we have been aggressively working to counter Iran, including sanctioning more than 400 Iranians - more than 400 - and companies, precisely for the things like the support it’s provided to Hamas,” he said.
The United States stands “ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” said President Biden. “Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation.” The United States’ “support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”