U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 22, 2023 in Washington.
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that it is not clear there was any involvement by Iran in the weekend attack by Hamas on Israel.
Iran has long been a supporter of Hamas, the group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, whose attack on Saturday left at least 250 in Israel dead.
“We have not yet seen evidence that Iran directed or was behind this particular attack, but there is certainly a long relationship,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Some Republican leaders have pointed to Iran as a cause of the attack. Rep Michael McCaul (R-TX) said later on CNN that “we do know that Iran was behind this” but did not specify whether he was talking about specific information on this weekend’s attack or just the country’s historic support of Hamas in general.
One area of criticism of Blinken and the Biden administration has been the $6 billion the U.S. agreed in September to unfreeze for Iran to use only for humanitarian purposes as part of a swap of detainees. However, Blinken said Sunday that none of the $6 billion released to Iran has been spent.
Blinken also said the U.S. is working to verify reports that Americans were killed or are missing from the attacks. He added there could be news about requests for additional aid for Israel from the U.S. later on Sunday.
Israel has since struck back at Hamas, including strikes in Gaza, and the country’s Security Cabinet officially approved a “war situation.” The developments over the weekend have raised concerns that the conflict could widen to include other groups in the Middle East.
Blinken said there had been “limited firing” between Lebanon-based Hezbollah and Israel but “as of now, that’s quiet, but it’s something we’re watching very carefully.”
“Our first focus is to make sure Israel has what it needs to deal with the situation in Gaza. … At the same time, President Biden was very clear in sending a message to anyone in any other place who might try to take advantage of this situation, not to,” Blinken said.