Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin on Saturday, briefing him on recent terrorist and rocket attacks against the Jewish state.
The Pentagon chief called Gallant to offer his condolences following a pair of deadly terrorist attacks on Friday.
Austin also expressed his support for Israel following the rocket attacks from Southern Lebanon and Gaza, which Israel attributed to Hamas, according to the Pentagon.
“The Secretary underscored his support for Israel’s security against all threats,” wrote Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
For his part, Gallant briefed Austin on the attacks and discussed “ongoing efforts of the defense establishment to thwart terrorism and respond effectively to any threat toward Israeli citizens and troops,” according to a statement from Israel’s Defense Ministry.
The minister also emphasized the efforts made by Israel’s defense establishment to allow for freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, which he said had been “hijacked by groups of extreme rioters,” in reference to extremists barricading themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, preventing Muslims from praying during Ramadan and provoking a response from Israeli security forces.
Austin “welcomed efforts to de-escalate tensions and emphasized the importance of refraining from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions,” according to the Pentagon statement.
The secretary urged calm during the overlapping holidays of Easter, Passover and Ramadan and wished Gallant a happy Passover.
Gallant thanked Austin “for his friendship and partnership and solidarity with Israel’s right to defend itself.”