Al-Qassam announces the destruction of 4 Israeli vehicles north-east of Gaza

American Special Forces are in Israel rescuing hostages… and Washington is planning for the “next day” in Gaza

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will arrive in Israel on Friday as part of a new Middle East tour, Washington announced, while President Joe Biden’s administration is still making various efforts in light of the war in Gaza, including the news of sending US special units to Israel for a possible intervention in the operations to rescue the hostages held by Hamas and find potential alternatives to it to govern the Strip.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller announced that Blinken will visit Israel on Friday, as part of his second Middle East tour following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israeli settlements and kibbutzim surrounding the Gaza Strip. He told reporters that Blinken “will meet with Israeli government officials and visit other regions,” which he did not name, noting that during his first trip, Blinken took shuttle tours of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Emirates. Blinken also accompanied the US president on his brief visit to Tel Aviv on October 18. US State Department advisor Derek Chollet will also visit Israel, Jordan and Turkey as part of US contacts on the situation in Gaza.

US President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Minister Anthony Blinken present (AP)

An alternative to Hamas?

Miller also announced that Blinken spoke by phone with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, reiterating US support for Israel’s “right to defend itself.” But he called on Israel to take “measures to limit harm to civilians.”

Blinken attended a hearing before the US Senate Appropriations Committee, which was repeatedly boycotted by protesters. It is noteworthy that he said: “At some point, the most logical thing is for an effective and renewed Palestinian Authority to take responsibility for governance and, ultimately, security in Gaza.”

Blinken wrote on the “X” platform: “I spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog about efforts to protect American citizens, return hostages to their homes, increase the pace and volume of humanitarian aid entering Gaza for distribution quickly to Palestinian civilians, and prevent the spread of the conflict.”

The next day

American officials are discussing with their counterparts in Israel, as well as leaders of other countries in the region, how to govern the Gaza Strip if Israel wins the battle. But a clear plan has not yet emerged.

The Bloomberg website reported that among the options being considered by the United States and Israel are the deployment of a multinational force that could include American forces, or the temporary placing of Gaza under United Nations supervision.

In response to this report, the White House said that sending American forces to Gaza as part of a peacekeeping force is not an issue under study or discussion, noting that some of President Biden’s aides are concerned that Israel may have developed an effective plan to inflict permanent damage on Hamas and has not followed an exit strategy.

“We have had preliminary conversations about what the future of Gaza might look like,” Miller said, anticipating that “this will be the subject of a lot of diplomatic work from now on.”

US President Joe Biden (Reuters)

Civil obsession

Blinken also wrote an opinion piece published Tuesday in the Washington Post in which he said that “rapid support from Congress (…) will ensure our ability to help Israel defend itself while helping Palestinian civilians caught in the fire cross which is its own fire”. (Hamas),” adding that “overall, this investment will demonstrate the unwavering determination of the United States to stand with our allies and partners, oppose tyrants and terrorists, and defend an international system that protects America’s interests and values. ” He stressed that “some in Congress are calling for funding only part of President Biden’s request, including proposals to cut off all humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza,” and believes that “it would be a grave mistake, as it would deepen the situation of suffering by more than two millions of civilians.” Palestinians, including women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups of the population, who have nothing to do with Hamas’s reprehensible attacks. It would also undermine Israel’s security and the stability of the region. “This will exacerbate problems and risks that will ultimately result in much greater costs to American taxpayers over time.” He stressed that “since (Hamas) killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, including at least 35 American citizens, and took more than 230 hostages, President Biden has affirmed Israel’s right and even obligation to defend themselves and prevent (Hamas) from implementing such examples.” This attack again,” he said, recalling that the President made clear that the United States would ensure that Israel had what it needed to defend its people from all threats, including from Iran and its proxy groups.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (AFP)

“Responsibility for atrocities”

Blinken also said that “at the same time, how Israel defends itself matters,” because “Palestinian civilians are not responsible for the atrocities committed by (Hamas) or the grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” They are his victims. “As is the case with civilians in any conflict, the lives of Palestinian civilians must be protected,” he explained, explaining that “this means that the flow of food, water, medicine, fuel and other essential humanitarian aid into Gaza must increase immediately and significantly.” This means that Palestinian civilians must be able to stay out of harm’s way. This means that every possible precaution must be taken to protect humanitarian sites. This means that humanitarian truces must be considered for these purposes ”.

American intervention forces

The US aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower transits the Strait of Gibraltar (AFP)

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted Christopher Meyer, US assistant secretary of defense for special operations, as saying that special forces had arrived in Israel to help them search for the location of Hamas hostages in Gaza. He said: “We are helping the Israelis in a number of things, the most important of which is the identification of hostages, including American hostages,” explaining that “American special operations forces in the region are also ready to help the our citizens to get out and protect the American embassy” in Jerusalem. However, he declined to specify the number of special operations forces personnel currently in Israel.

Other American officials had previously announced that the Pentagon had sent dozens of commandos in recent days, as well as a small team that was in Israel during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack to conduct pre-planned training.

Meyer stressed that U.S. special operations forces have not been assigned any combat role in Israel and will work with specialists from the FBI, State Department and other departments involved in hostage release efforts.

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