Blinken: In the absence of a plan for day after in Gaza, there won’t be a day after

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with Moldova's President Maia Sandu at the Moldovan Presidency in Chisinau, Moldova, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, Pool)
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with Moldova's President Maia Sandu at the Moldovan Presidency in Chisinau, Moldova, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, Pool)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns that continued Israeli refusal to advance a viable plan for the post-war management of Gaza will lead to a never-ending war in the enclave.

“In the absence of a plan for the day after, there won’t be a day after,” Blinken says at a press conference in Moldova.

Israel must adopt such a plan “as quickly as possible,” the top US diplomat says, warning that failure to do so will either lead to Israel permanently occupying Gaza and facing an “enduring insurgency”; Hamas remaining in control, which is unacceptable; or a power vacuum that will be filled initially by chaos and lawlessness followed by Hamas or other Jihadist groups regaining power.

“A plan one that can actually help ensure the enduring defeat of Hamas — which is a shared objective and should be everyone’s objective — is imperative,” Blinken says. “A plan that accounts for security in Gaza, that accounts for governance in Gaza, that accounts for rebuilding the lives of the Gazan people.”

The secretary of state argues that without a plan for the day after, incremental gains against Hamas — such as the strike over the weekend that Israel says was intended to only target a pair of senior commanders — have to be questioned.

“After Israel has had real success in helping to destroy Hamas’s capacity to repeat October 7… it has to ask [whether]… further incremental gains against Hamas — gains that may not be durable… absent a [day after] plan… that stacks up against some of the unintended, but horrific consequences of military action in a place where the people you are going after so closely embedded with civilians,” Blinken says.

Blinken reiterates Washington’s horror over the Sunday night IDF strike that led to the killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians sheltering in Rafah and says the US is waiting for Israel to conduct a swift and thorough investigation before passing further judgment.

Calling the incident “horrific,” he said: “Anyone who has seen the images cannot be deeply affected by them, just on a basic human level.”

“We have been very clear with Israel on the imperative — in this instance as in other instances — to immediately investigate and determine exactly what happened and why it happened, and if accountability is necessary to make sure that there is accountability,” Blinken said.

He said he could not verify a report that US weapons were used in the attack.

He notes Israel’s claim that it used a small-diameter bomb to avoid civilian casualties.

“But just assuming for a moment that that’s what happened, we also see that even limited, focused, targeted attacks designed to deal with terrorists who have killed innocent civilians or who are planning to kill more; even those kinds of operations can have terrible, horrific, unintended consequences,” Blinken says, indicating increasing discomfort with any continued Israeli operations in Gaza.

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