BY ALEX BALUKU
Baluku is a distinguished Fellow of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists, currently reporting from the United States of America on the 78th UN General Assembly. With a keen eye for global affairs and a commitment to delivering insightful coverage of UN activities, Baluku brings a unique perspective to the world of international journalism.
NEW YORK, OCT 24, 2023 – In a powerful address at the UN Security Council Ministerial Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken emphasized Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against terrorism. He emphasized that while this right is paramount, the way in which Israel conducts its defense is of crucial importance.
Addressing the council, Secretary Blinken condemned Hamas’s recent terrorist attack on Israel, denouncing the brutality and inhumanity of the act. He painted a grim picture of the horrors inflicted, highlighting the need for global condemnation and outrage in response to such atrocities.
“What we witnessed on October 7 was beyond comprehension,” Secretary Blinken stated. “Babies riddled with bullets, young people hunted down and gunned down with glee, families burned alive in a final embrace – these are acts that demand unequivocal condemnation.”
He further stressed that all acts of terrorism are unlawful and unjustifiable, regardless of where they occur or which group perpetrates them. Secretary Blinken held that this council has a responsibility to denounce member states that support and enable such terrorist groups.
The Secretary expressed his deep concern over the international scope of the tragedy, revealing that among the more than 1,400 victims were citizens from over 30 UN member states, including at least 33 American citizens. He urged every member of the council to recognize their stake and responsibility in defeating terrorism.
While affirming Israel’s right to self-defense, Secretary Blinken also emphasized the vital need to protect civilians, particularly those in Gaza. He called for Hamas to cease using civilians as human shields, labeling it an act of “great cynicism.” Additionally, he urged Israel to take all possible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and ensure the flow of essential humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
Secretary Blinken disclosed ongoing efforts to coordinate with regional partners and the United Nations to facilitate humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, without benefiting terrorist groups. The United States has committed an additional $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, totaling more than $1.6 billion over the past two and a half years.
In a plea to the international community, Secretary Blinken called for a united message to prevent the conflict from spreading. He urged member states to use their influence to discourage any entity from opening another front against Israel, emphasizing the broader implications of such a development.
Addressing the issue of Iran’s support for various militant groups, Secretary Blinken warned against any attacks on U.S. personnel. He assured that the United States does not seek conflict with Iran but emphasized a swift and decisive response if U.S. personnel are targeted.
In conclusion, Secretary Blinken stressed the imperative of redoubling efforts to find a lasting political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He asserted that a two-state solution is the only path to enduring peace and security in the region, emphasizing the need for equal measures of security, freedom, justice, and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians.
The Secretary’s address underscored the urgency of the situation and the critical role of the international community in finding a resolution to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.