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Blinken: Hamas' attack on Israel not attempt to take advantage of West's focus on Ukraine

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 9, 2023 9:23 AM 3 min read
Rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza City are intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome defence missile system in the early hours of Oct. 8, 2023. (Photo by EYAD BABA/AFP via Getty Images)
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he doesn't believe Hamas' attack on Israel was an attempt to take advantage of the West's focus on Ukraine, adding that the motivations of the extremist organization are still unclear.

"We've been actively working on trying to help Israel and Saudi Arabia normalize their relations, as well as Israel broadening its relationships with many other countries in the region and beyond… it would really change the prospects of the entire region far into the future," Blinken said in an Oct. 8 interview with CBS.

"Now, who's opposed to that? Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran. So, I think that speaks volumes."

Iran-backed militant group Hamas, which currently holds power in Gaza, launched an attack of unprecedented scale on Israel on Oct. 7, infiltrating Israeli territory on the ground and with ultralight aircraft while bombing Israeli settlements. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas.

Lebanon's armed group Hezbollah also reportedly involved itself in the hostilities on Oct. 8 by exchanging rocket and artillery fire with the Israeli military.

Zelensky: Over 100 Ukrainians seek assistance at embassy in Israel
President Volodymyr Zelensky reminded that two Ukrainian citizens have been killed in the hostilities. He appealed to Ukrainians in Israel to follow instructions of the local security services.

When asked if the U.S. requested Israel not to strike Iran, which reportedly played a pivotal role in planning and authorizing the Hamas' offensive, Blinken replied that "the only things we've said to Israel" was assuring it in Washington's support.

At the same time, Blinken added that he and other U.S. officials talked to counterparts from Mideast countries and Europe "to make sure people had heard very clearly what the President said about others in other places not taking advantage of the situation."

Iran's mission to the United Nations denied Tehran's involvement in the largest incursion into Israel in decades, which has reportedly killed more than 700 Israelis and 430 residents of Gaza.

"The resolute measures taken by Palestine constitute a wholly legitimate defense against seven decades of oppressive occupation and heinous crimes committed by the illegitimate Zionist regime," the mission said in a statement cited by Reuters on Oct. 9.

"We emphatically stand in unflinching support of Palestine; however, we are not involved in Palestine's response, as it is taken solely by Palestine itself," reads the statement.

On Oct. 8, Washington announced sending an aircraft carrier group to the Eastern Mediterranean and pledged to provide its close ally Israel with additional military aid, including ammunition.

UN Security Council holds emergency meeting following attack on Israel
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan appealed to the Security Council to condemn the “ruthless terror” attacks conducted by Hamas. “Hamas’ war crimes must be unequivocally condemned. This unimaginable atrocity must be condemned. Israel must be given steadfast support to defend ourselves,” Erdan…

Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Oct. 8 he believes the Hamas' attack on Israel would aid Russia in its war against Ukraine as it draws away attention from the conflict.

The U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also suggested that Russia would seek to exploit Hamas' attack on Israel to divert Western support and attention away from Ukraine.

Pro-Russian propaganda sources may try to drive a wedge in military support for Ukraine and attempt to demoralize Ukrainian society by claiming Ukraine will lose support from Western allies, the ISW said.

ISW: Russia exploiting Hamas attack on Israel to divert support from Ukraine
Following Hamas’ large-scale attacks on Israeli territory on Oct. 7, Russian voices amplified messages blaming Western countries for neglecting conflicts in the Middle East in favor of supporting Ukraine.
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