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October 15, 2023

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks At a Joint Press Availability in Qatar


SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good evening.  Let me start by expressing my gratitude to the Amir and to the prime minister, my friend Mohammed, for, as always, very productive discussions.

Qatar has been a very close partner to the United States on a broad range of issues that are crucial to both of our countries and to this region – from working together on evacuating Americans, Afghans, and others from Afghanistan; to cooperating very closely in responding to humanitarian emergencies, like the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and in Syria.

We’re meeting today at what is a difficult but also consequential time for the region in the wake of Hamas’s appalling attack that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, at least 27 American citizens, and people from more than 30 countries.

The United States and Qatar share the goal of preventing this conflict from spreading.  We discussed in detail our efforts to prevent any actor – state or non-state – from creating a new front in this conflict.  We’re also working intensively together to secure the release of hostages, including American citizens being held by Hamas in Gaza.  I’m grateful for the urgency that Qatar is bringing to this effort.

I had an opportunity to meet yesterday with the families of some of those being held hostage by Hamas.  Their anguish is profound.  They’re desperate to bring their loved ones home, and we are working urgently on that effort.  We’re doing that with Qatar, and we’re doing that with allies and partners across the region.

As Israel continues to respond to Hamas’s devastating attack, the United States will ensure that it has what it needs to defend its people.  Secretary of Defense Austin was in Israel today doing just that, working closely with the Israelis to make sure that we’re providing them what they need and that we’ll be able to do that on an ongoing basis.

At the same time, we’re in constant communication with Israeli officials and with multilateral and international organizations – humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations agencies, including the ICRC, to get aid to civilians in Gaza.  As I said yesterday in Tel Aviv, Israel has the right – indeed, it has the obligation to defend its people and to try to ensure that Hamas can never repeat what it’s done.  We continue to discuss with Israel the importance of taking every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.  We recognize that many Palestinian families in Gaza are suffering through no fault of their own, and that Palestinian civilians have lost their lives.  We mourn the loss of every innocent life – Israeli, Palestinian, Jew, Christian, Muslim, as well as civilians of every faith and every nationality who’ve been killed.

Let’s not lose sight of why this is happening.  Israel is conducting operations in Gaza because Hamas carried out terrorist attacks that killed – in the most horrific – way 1,300 of its people.  Hamas terrorists slaughtered, raped, mutilated, tortured, burned innocent civilians – from babies to the elderly, men, women, boys, and girls.

Now, efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza are complicated by the fact that Hamas continues to use innocent civilians as human shields, and is reportedly blocking roads to prevent Palestinians from moving to southern Gaza, out of harm’s way.  We know the humanitarian situation is urgent.  We’re actively engaged with partners, including Qatar, to get aid to those who need it.

Your Excellency, thank you again for today’s very, very good discussions, and for all the work that our countries have done together.  Thank you.