update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu, Gallant talk Hamas war with visiting White House official

Brett McGurk and Barbara Leaf’s itinerary includes Belgium, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with U.S. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Nov. 15, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with U.S. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Nov. 15, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday with U.S. Special Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu and McGurk discussed a “range of issues regarding the war while emphasizing the release of the hostages,” according to a readout from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

Israel’s operation to free Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital from Hamas control indicates the IDF’s capability and determination to “fully defeat” the terror group, Netanyahu told the White House envoy.

The U.S. delegation also included Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues David Satterfield and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew.

Among those attending the meeting from the Israeli side were Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Earlier on Wednesday, McGurk sat down with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Gallant began the meeting by expressing his appreciation for Washington’s “ongoing support and deep partnership on all levels,” according to an Israeli statement.

Gallant briefed McGurk on operational developments as IDF troops target Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

“They discussed the complexity of said operations in light of Hamas’s entrenchment within urban environments and the cynical use of civilian institutions, including multiple hospitals,” added the statement.

Overnight Tuesday, Israeli forces entered Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to conduct a precision operation against Hamas.

Israeli forces came under attack before entering the complex, encountering explosive devices and terrorist cells, the IDF said. During the clashes, soldiers killed at least five Hamas gunmen. No soldiers were hurt.

In recent weeks, Israel has provided extensive evidence that Hamas uses hospitals, mosques, schools and other civilian sites for its terrorist warfare, and that the terrorist group has a command center in the tunnel system underneath Shifa.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Gallant discussed with McGurk “the hostage situation at length, sharing intelligence and details on the status of those held captive by Hamas, as well as the efforts to return them home, including U.S. nationals,” said the statement.

The parties also discussed “overcoming challenges in facilitating humanitarian aid to the civilian population [in Gaza” as well as “the role of the international community in enabling the increase in the delivery of urgent supplies.”

The Biden administration has dispatched McGurk and Barbara Leaf, the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, to develop plans with allies on addressing the challenges of the Israel-Hamas war.

In Brussels on Tuesday, McGurk briefed NATO allies and partners in the European Union to determine ways to expand humanitarian assistance for civilians in the Gaza Strip. The international leaders also discussed putting economic pressure on Hamas and pushing for the immediate release of the hostages whom Gaza terrorists kidnapped from Israel.

In discussions with leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, McGurk will emphasize how to contain the conflict, while in Qatar, which has tried to act as a mediator with the Gaza terrorists, he will work towards the release of the hostages.

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