Hamas 'blocked' US citizens from leaving Gaza, Blinken says
"Israel has both the right and even the obligation not only to defend itself, but to try to make sure that, to the best of its ability, this can't happen again," Blinken said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said that Hamas terrorists are refusing to allow U.S. citizens to leave Gaza, leaving them stuck in the area despite U.S. pressure to let them go.
With up to 600 U.S. citizens estimated to be in Gaza, Blinken said, "To date, at least, Hamas has blocked them from leaving, showing once again its total disregard for civilians of any kind who are – who are stuck in Gaza," on CBS News' "Face the Nation."
Despite previously calling for a ceasefire in Israel, during his interview Sunday, Blinken defended Israel's right to defend itself.
"It was only a couple of weeks ago that Hamas invaded Israel with its terrorist fighters and slaughtered – and I use that – that word very deliberately – slaughtered so many people, again, men, women, young children, babies, old people, you name it," he said.
While visiting Israel, Blinken said he had to take shelter multiple times because Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad "continue to rain rockets down on Israel" since Oct. 7, when terrorists invaded Israel and brutally murdered more than 1,400 people, including at least 31 U.S. citizens, in the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.
"No country can be expected to tolerate this, to live with this. And, as we said from the start, Israel has both the right and even the obligation not only to defend itself, but to try to make sure that, to the best of its ability, this can't happen again," he also said Sunday.
When pressed about losses in Gaza, Blinken said that the civilian deaths are "on Hamas."
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is known for using civilians as human shields and ordering civilians to remain in place despite evacuation orders from Israel.