update deskIsrael at War

Gallant, Austin talk conflicts against Hamas, Hezbollah

The Israeli defense minister emphasized the importance of a "joint regional effort to counter Iran’s proxy attacks and nuclear ambitions."

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (in foreground) meet at the Pentagon, March 26, 2024. Photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza/U.S. Department of Defense.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (in foreground) meet at the Pentagon, March 26, 2024. Photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza/U.S. Department of Defense.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke overnight Wednesday with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin about “operational developments” in the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the low-intensity conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Gallant briefed the U.S. defense secretary “on the IDF’s ongoing activities and preparation for future operations in Gaza. He also discussed the humanitarian effort, including the opening of new land crossings and the significant increase in volume of aid over the past month—doubling the number of aid trucks entering Gaza,” according to a statement from the Israeli minister’s office.

The former IDF major general also updated Austin on the “ongoing aggression by Hezbollah and emphasized Israel’s commitment to returning Israel’s northern communities to their homes, whether it be via agreement or military action.”

The men highlighted their commitment to ensuring the release of the 133 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza as well as combatting Iranian threats to regional stability and Israel’s security.

Gallant “emphasized the importance of maintaining a united front and joint regional effort to counter Iran’s proxy attacks and nuclear ambitions,” and expressed “appreciation to the secretary for his steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and long-lasting partnership.”

Austin reaffirmed Washington’s “commitment to the unconditional return of all hostages and conveyed the importance of increasing the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza to flood the zone, while ensuring the safety of civilians and aid workers,” according to a Pentagon statement.

“The secretary also stressed the need for any potential Israeli military operation in Rafah to include a credible plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians and maintain the flow of humanitarian aid,” added the statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli leaders on Wednesday as part of his Middle East tour to Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, his seventh trip to the Jewish state since the current Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7.

Blinken emphasized “the need to avoid further expansion of the conflict and updated [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] on ongoing efforts to ensure a lasting, sustainable peace in the region.”

Without delving into details, Blinken furthermore “reiterated the United States’ clear position on Rafah.”

Netanyahu, according to reports in the Hebrew media, pushed back on America’s position, insisting that a Rafah operation will move forward, and that Israel will not agree to a “permanent ceasefire” before Hamas is destroyed in Gaza.

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