US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken held a press conference in Tel Avi this evening (Thursday) following his meetings with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, in the aftermath of the massacre of 1,300 Israelis by the Hamas terrorist organization.

"I came to Israel with a simple message: The United States stands with Israel and with its people, today, tomorrow, every day," the US Secretary of State opened.

Blinken explained that he discussed what Israel needs to defend itself with Israeli leaders. "We're delivering on those needs as we speak." He added that the US is doing everything it can to secure the release of the hostages that are being held by the Hamas terror organization.

"For the families of the missing, there is an unrelenting agony of not knowing the fate of their loved ones, something that I don't think most of us can truly understand, truly contemplate, if we're not in their shoes," he added.

Blinken described the civilian efforts in the wake of the war: "I also had the chance to see up close the genuinely inspiring solidarity of the Israeli people in the wake of Hamas' attacks when I visited one of the many sites where citizens have swiftly organized efforts to collect, to sort, to distribute donations to those in need, including many families who have been displaced from the south," he stated.

"In our time here, everywhere we've gone, we've met people who've been touched, in one way or another, by Hamas' bloody hand. We encountered a nation knit together by grief but also a nation united in resolve. The United States shares that resolve. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel," said Secretary Blinken.

Blinken discussed peace in the Middle East: "One path forward is a region that comes together, integrated, normalized relations among its countries, people working in common purpose to common benefit. More peaceful, more stable. Then there's the path that Hamas has shown in shark clear light. Terror, destruction, nihilism. The choice could not be clearer," he stated.

"Hamas launched this attack on Simchat Torah. This is the day that Jews celebrate finishing the reading of the Torah. This Saturday, Jews around the world will chant the first words of the book of Genesis. They'll read that 'In the Beginning, there was darkness, and then, there was light,' that the first person was alone until a partner joined them. I'm standing here today alongside our Israeli friends and all those who reject terror to help find the glimmers of light even in this moment of deep darkness and to make clear that as long as there is the United States, Israel will never be alone."

Secretary Blinken says his team saw images of the Hamas massacre. "It's hard to find the right words. It's beyond what anyone would ever want to imagine, much less actually see and, God forbid, experience. A baby, an infant, riddled with bullets, soldiers beheaded, young people burned alive in their cars or in their hideaway rooms. I could go on, but it's simply depravity in the worst imaginable way. It almost defies comprehension." He added that the images of the Hamas massacre "harken back to ISIS and some of the very things we saw when it was on its rampage, that thankfully was stopped.

When you see this, you can't help but imagine yourself, your family, your loved ones, our friends in that situation, in that predicament. And maybe the best word for me is overwhelming, This is a moment for moral clarity. This is a moment where everyone needs to make clear that there is revulsion, disgust, and determination not to allow this to go forward. Images are worth a thousand words. These images may be worth a million," he concluded.

In response to a question by the press on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, Blinken says that the situation is "complicated" because "Hamas continues to use civilians as human shields, something that's not new, something that they've always done. Intentionally putting civilians in harm's way to try to protect themselves or to try to protect their infrastructure or protect their weapons. So that's one of the basic facts that Israel has to deal with.

Civilians should not be used in any way as the targets of military operations. They are not the target of Israel's operations. We did discuss ways to address the humanitarian needs of people living in Gaza, to protect them from harm while Israel conducts its legitimate security operations to defend itself from terrorism and to try to ensure that this never happens again."

The Secretary of State explained that it is the US's determination, and that of Israel as well, that there will not be a second front or a third front, and they are working as hard as they can with other partners in the region to try to ensure that that's the case.