Blinken calls for aid to Palestinians and offers warning for Iran

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said the US is working with Egypt, Israel and the United Nations to enable a consistent flow of humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and suggested that there may be a need for temporary pauses to hostilities to allow that aid to be delivered.

Mr Blinken, who called for greater aid to the Palestinians in remarks to the UN Security Council, said civilians in Gaza “are not to be blamed for the carnage committed by Hamas” and “must be protected”.

“Food, medicine and water and other assistance must ... flow into Gaza and to the areas where people need them, and civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way, and humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes,” he said.

The top diplomat also said the United States has “worked relentlessly to make real these principles” and continues now to “work closely with Egypt, Israel and partners across the region as well as the United Nations to make sure that humanitarian assistance flows to the people of Gaza without going to Hamas or any other terrorist groups”.

Continuing, Mr Blinken noted that the US has pledged to donate more than $1.6 billion to the Palestinians over the last two years, making the US the “largest single country donor by far to the Palestinian people”. He urged “all countries” to join the UN-led relief efforts in Gaza because “it is our core belief that every civilian life is equally valuable” in “every conflict”.

“A civilian is a civilian is a civilian. No matter his or her nationality, ethnicity, age, gender, faith. That is why America mourns the loss of every single innocent life in this crisis including Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim, Jews and Christians and people of all nationalities and faiths,” he said.

The US secretary of state’s remarks came less than 24 hours after Hamas released two more hostages into the care of the International Red Cross.

In his remarks, he thanked the ICRC, Qatar and Egypt for assisting in arranging for the hostages’ return, but he noted that more than 200 remain captive by the militant group and called for “every member” of the UN to use whatever influence they have to secure the hostages release.

Mr Blinken also warned Iran and other potentially hostile nations against using the two-week-old conflict to stoke a broader war by attacking American interests in the region, urging them to “not throw fuel on the fire”.

Regarding the Islamic Republic, he said it was “no secret to anyone in this room or to this council that Iran has supported Hamas and the people who have been supportive of wiping Israel off of the map”

“Let me say this before this council and what we have consistently said to Iranian officials and through other channels: The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. We do not want this war to widen, but if Iran or its proxies attack U.S. personnel anywhere, make no mistake, we will defend our people, we will defend our security swiftly and decisively,” he said.