US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday encouraged continued engagement with Turkey and emphasized US focus on stopping Hamas attacks and securing the release of all hostages in a call to Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, the State Department reported in a statement.
A text sent by State Department spokesman Matthew Miller indicated that Blinken “encourages Turkey’s continued commitment and underscores the United States’ unwavering focus on halting Hamas attacks and securing the release of all the hostages.”
Hamas fighters stormed Israeli cities on Saturday as the country endured its bloodiest day in decades. Israel responded to the Palestinians with airstrikes in Gaza on Sunday, with hundreds reportedly killed on both sides. The spiral of violence threatens to start a new war in the Middle East.
After a surprise advance by the Palestinian military group Hamas against Israeli territories with a barrage of rockets and a massive ground attack, the death toll rose to more than 1,1000, with casualties on both sides.
The United States will send more military ships and aircraft closer to Israel as a show of support, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, and Washington believes the latest attack by Hamas may be motivated by a possible breakup. normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
At least three Americans were among the dead, CNN reported Sunday, citing a US memo.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN earlier that Washington had noted reports of many Americans being killed and kidnapped and was trying to verify the details and numbers.
“We have reports that many Americans have been killed. We are working overtime to investigate,” he said.
Austin said the United States would also provide ammunition to Israel and that its security assistance would begin arriving on Sunday. The Pentagon will also send fighter jets to the region, he said.
US President Joe Biden spoke by phone on Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assuring him that more aid for the Israel Defense Forces is imminent and that he will receive more in the coming days, according to the House. US Vice President Kamala Harris also had a call with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Austin said he ordered an aircraft carrier group closer to Israel. “I directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.