Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, the Secretary of State announced on Monday evening.
Antony Blinken made the announcement after six hours of talks with Israeli officials.
It will be Biden’s second visit this year to an active war zone. In February, he traveled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky and celebrate the anniversary of the conflict.
Blinken said Biden will receive a security briefing from Israel and discuss efforts to secure the release of hostages, including Americans.
“He comes here at a crucial time for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Blinken said.
“And he comes here to do the next thing.
“First, the President will reaffirm the United States’ solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security.
“President Biden will once again make clear – as he has done unequivocally since Hamas’s murder of more than 1,400 people, including at least thirty Americans – that Israel has the right and even the obligation to defend its people against Hamas and other terrorists, and to prevent future attacks.
“The President will hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs.
“Second, President Biden will underscore a crystal-clear message to any actor – state or non-state – who tries to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel: Don’t do that.”
Blinken experienced the tense security situation in Israel firsthand when he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when the two had to briefly retreat to a security bunker as air raid sirens went off.
It was the second trip by the country’s top diplomat to Israel in days, as the US ally prepares for a possible ground invasion of Gaza in response to the October 7 Hamas terror attacks.
His trip on Monday was interrupted twice by airstrike sirens amid continued rocket attacks from Hamas.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed the security measure.
“During the secretary’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the war cabinet, the air raid sirens went off and they took shelter in the bunker for five minutes,” he said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at The Kirya, Israel’s Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 16, 2023. Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to withdraw during his visit in a bomb shelter
Other officials also had to take shelter in stairwells and secure areas until the all clear.
Israel’s Iron Dome defenses were activated as Blinken headed to the Israeli Defense Ministry for a meeting.
It came on a day when Blinken was meeting with the new war cabinet of Israel’s new unity government. This included Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who met with Blinken at the Kirya, home of Israel’s Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
The precautions came following reports that President Biden himself was strongly considering a trip to Israel, which is amassing more than 300,000 reservists along the Gaza border.
The US deployed a second aircraft carrier group, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the region on Friday and has positioned an air armada in the region, along with additional troops to advise Israel or provide medical supplies if necessary.
Blinken’s meeting with Netanyahu came days after his October 12 visit, which also included meetings across the region
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Netanyahu on October 13 in another show of US support for Israel
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had an emotional meeting with a 24-year-old Israeli woman who recounted the horrors of the Israeli music festival where Hamas militants shot attendees. She begged for help to bring her kidnapped friends home from captivity
During his previous Oct. 12 trip, Blinken had an emotional encounter with a 24-year-old Israeli woman who recounted the horrors of the Hamas attack on an Israeli music festival. She begged Blinken to help free her captured friends.
Blinken met the woman during a tour of a donation center.
The trip came five days after Hamas, the Palestinian terror group, launched an attack on Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 150 hostages.
Blinken spoke to a young woman who was at a desert music rave that was attacked by the terrorists.
She told him, “We’ve lost a lot of our friends, close friends, a lot of family members. There are many people we know who have been kidnapped and are now in Gaza. We really experienced horror.
“I’m like – I’m 24. And I never thought something like this would ever happen at a dance or at a music festival. We celebrated love and we danced,” she said.
‘I admire your strength and telling your story also makes a big difference. The world needs to hear this,” Blinken told her.