As the war between Israel and Hamas passes the two-month mark, it’s still unclear how the fighting will end and how long it will last, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.
“We have these discussions with Israel including about the duration as well as how it is prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make,” Blinken said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“But Hamas has decisions to make, too. It could get out from hiding behind civilians tomorrow. It could put down its arms tomorrow. It could surrender tomorrow and this would be over,” he added.
The fighting, which began after Hamas attacked and killed about 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7, has devastated Gaza. In response to the attack, Israel launched an air and ground war that has killed thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, and forced some 1.9 million people to flee their homes, according to the Associated Press. With aid delivery rendered impossible in much of the territory, Palestinians face severe shortages of food, water and other basic goods.
According to Palestinian officials, 17,700 Palestinians have been killed. Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israel, and nearly 85% of the 2.3 million people living in Gaza have been displaced, with nowhere safe to flee to, according to U.N. agencies.
The U.S. has pledged its unwavering support to Israel, and recently vetoed a ceasefire resolution in the U.N. Security Council — a measure that had support from almost all other Security Council countries. However, U.S. officials have also called on Israeli leaders to take measures to avoid civilian casualties.
Israel has promised to wipe Hamas, which is the governing body in Gaza, out of the region. But there does not appear to be a plan in place for what will happen to the region, or the remaining residents, when the fighting ends.
“Of course, everyone wants to see this campaign come to a close as quickly as possible. But any country faced with what Israel is facing, a terrorist organization that attacked in the most horrific way possible on Oct. 7, and, as I said, has said repeatedly that it would do it again and again — it has to get to the point where it is confident that that can’t be repeated,” Blinken said Sunday.
The United States, Blinken said, wants to see this end with the formation of a Palestinian state side by side with Israel.
“From our perspective, I think from the perspective of many around the world, that has to lead to a Palestinian state. This is — we’re not going to have durable peace, we’re not going to have durable security for Israel unless and until Palestinian political aspirations are met,” Blinken said.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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