Disrupting Saudi-Israel ties may have motivated Hamas attack: Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on on 7 October, 2023
Reuters file photo

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said part of the motivation for Hamas' latest attack on Israel could have been disrupting a potential normalising of Israel-Saudi Arabia ties, adding Washington will announce new aid for Israel on Sunday.

Hamas fighters rampaged through Israeli towns as the country suffered its bloodiest day in decades on Saturday and subsequently battered Palestinians with air strikes in Gaza on Sunday, with hundreds killed on both sides and spiralling violence threatening a major new Middle East war.

"It wouldn't be a surprise that part of the motivation may have been to disrupt efforts to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together, along with other countries that may be interested in normalising relations with Israel," Blinken told CNN in an interview on Sunday.

Blinken added the United States has also taken note of reports of several Americans killed and missing in Israel and Washington is looking to verify the details and figures.

The secretary of state said details of new U.S. assistance for Israel will be made public later, as he labelled the attack on Israel as a "terrorist attack by a terrorist organisation."

"We are looking at specific additional requests that the Israelis have made. I think you're likely to hear more about that later today," Blinken told CNN.

Blinken added there was relative calm on Sunday in most of Israel but intense fighting in Gaza, an Israeli-blockaded Palestinian enclave which has witnessed weeks of protests by youth groups due to long-time grievances related to the Palestinian national cause and prolonged economic strife.

He added that there was not yet any evidence seen by the United States of Iran being behind the latest attack in Israel but he noted the long standing ties between Iran and Hamas, which governs Gaza.

The attack by Hamas launched at dawn on Saturday represented the biggest and deadliest incursion into Israel since Egypt and Syria launched a sudden assault in an effort to reclaim lost territory in the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.