Copenhagen, Denmark: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to protect civilians, especially children, stating that Israel “as a democracy bears an extra weight” in this regard.
“We’ll continue to conduct intensive diplomacy to bring this current cycle of violence to an end” and “we are ready to lend support if the parties seek a ceasefire,” Blinken told a press conference in Copenhagen.
He reaffirmed Washington’s support for Israel’s right to “defend itself,” emphasizing that “there is no comparison between a terrorist group shooting rockets at civilians indiscriminately and a country defending its people from such attacks.”
“So we call on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to end the rocket attacks immediately.”
However, he added that “Israel as a democracy has an extra burden to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.”
This includes journalists, according to Blinken, who was referring to an Israeli air strike in Gaza on Saturday that damaged a building containing Al Jazeera television and the Associated Press.
The top US ambassador restated the US government’s worries about media protection but did not criticize the strike.
He claimed that Washington had asked Israel to offer “further facts regarding the strike’s basis.”
Blinken stated that he had not seen any information supplied by Israeli officials and hence could not pronounce the strike’s legitimacy.
“Israel has a special responsibility to protect civilians in the course of its self-defense, and that most certainly includes journalists,” he said.
Blinken also defended Washington’s decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire.
“We’re not standing in the way of diplomacy,” Blinken stressed.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF SHEHBAZ SHARIF VIA TWITTER