US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referenced photos he was shown from Hamas's assault on southern Israel in an interview on Thursday, saying "It almost defies human comprehension, precisely because it’s not human."
In an interview with World News Tonight, Blinken stated "It’s genuinely overwhelming. The world’s already seen a lot of these images, but I saw some images today that I hadn’t seen before, and I suspect others hadn’t. I almost hesitate to get into it, but a young infant riddled with bullets; a family hugging each other in a death embrace, having been burned to death; beheaded soldiers; more. It almost defies human comprehension, precisely because it’s not human. And it reminds me in some ways of the worst of what we saw from ISIS a few years ago. Thankfully, ISIS has been dealt with. Hamas – not yet."
In another interview with NBC Nightly News, the secretary of state added, "What we’ve seen here is something, to most of us, almost unimaginable. I think there’s both an absolute revulsion at what we’ve seen and also a determination to stand strongly against it."
"So we stand with Israel. It has not only a right, but I think an obligation to take the steps necessary to defend its people, and also to ensure to the best of its ability that this can’t happen again."
When asked if he believes that Palestinian civilians should "pay the price" for the assault conducted by Hamas, Blinked told World News Tonight that "One of the many tragedies that Hamas inflicts on people is the tragedy that it’s inflicted on the Palestinian people, including and notably people in Gaza. First, instead of using the resources that it’s had at its disposal to actually better their lives, what has it done? It’s used almost all of its resources for terrorist tunnels and rockets to attack Israel."
"Second, it uses people as human shields. It intentionally puts them in harm’s way to try to protect itself, to protect its leaders, its members, or to protect their equipment, their arms."
US doing 'everything' to bring hostages home
Blinken also referenced efforts to free hostages being held by Hamas, saying "We are doing everything we can, looking at every possible option, to bring their loved ones back to them."
The secretary of state added that he would not get into the specifics of what options are being considered. "We have a lot of experience with this over the years," he explained. "And President Biden has always been determined in these situations to explore every possible option."
Blinken explained that the US is also working with countries in the region who may have leverage with Hamas to use that leverage to get the hostages released.
'We haven’t seen direct evidence that Iran participated in the attack'
The secretary of state additionally addressed reports that Iran was involved in planning the assault launched by Hamas, saying: "When it comes to this specific attack, right now, as we speak, we haven’t seen direct evidence that Iran participated in or helped plan the attack."
"That doesn’t mean that it didn’t; we just don’t have the evidence to show it."
Blinken stressed that "Iran has had a long relationship with Hamas, and Hamas wouldn’t be Hamas without the support that it’s gotten over many years from Iran."
The secretary of state was also asked about $6 billion in Iranian oil money which was transferred to Qatar for Iran to use for "humanitarian purposes" earlier this year.
Blinken stressed that Iran "doesn’t actually have direct access" to the funds and that the US retains the right to freeze the funds.
"There’s not a hold on the money in the sense that the money has not – it just hasn’t been expended at all. And again, as I said, we can freeze it at any time. Beyond that..."
Blinken additionally addressed concerns surrounding the intelligence failure in not detecting the Hamas assault stating: "That’s going to be something that I know that the Israelis are looking at, will study, and will get to the bottom of. It may take some time. And of course, the focus right now is on dealing with these attacks, dealing with defending the country, dealing with trying to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But there’s no doubt – the Israelis have said very clearly and very directly – that there was an intelligence failure, and this is something that they are determined to get to the bottom of."
Blinken added on CBS Evening News: "We have an extraordinarily vigilant Intelligence Community that is working every single minute of every single day…I think as Israelis go back and look at what happened here, it may well be not that they didn’t have something but that they didn’t interpret it in what proved to be the right way."