update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Netanyahu, US secretary of defense meet in Tel Aviv

"I was the guy that initially put the ISIS campaign together. And I know a lot about ISIS, and this is worse than what I saw with ISIS," Lloyd Austin told the prime minister.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and staff (left) meet in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and staff on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO,
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and staff (left) meet in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and staff on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in on Friday afternoon at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

“I’m very appreciative of the strong stance of the president, you, Secretary Blinken, the American people and the American government,” Netanyahu told the secretary, per an Israeli Government Press Office readout.

“Hamas is ISIS, and I think what you said and in many ways the president has said, in many ways, Hamas is worse than ISIS,” the Israeli premier added. “Just as the entire civilized world united to fight ISIS, the united civilized world has to unite to help us fight Hamas. I know that you stand with us, and I appreciate it mightily.”

“We’re with you, Mr. Prime Minister. As the president said, we have your back,” Austin told Netanyahu. “It’s an awful week. Disgusting acts by this terrorist group. And as you know, I was the guy that initially put the ISIS campaign together. And I know a lot about ISIS, and this is worse than what I saw with ISIS. We do stand with you, Mr. Prime Minister.”

“I told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that the people of Israel have the unwavering support of the U.S., and we are committed to ensuring Israel has what it needs to defend itself,” Austin posted on X.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi and Maj. Gen. Avi Gil, Netanyahu’s military secretary, attended on the Israeli side, per the readout.

Kelly Magsamen and Ronald Clark, chief of staff and senior military assistant respectively to Austin, and Stephanie Hallett, acting U.S. ambassador to Israel, joined the U.S. defense secretary.

The U.S. secretary met separately with Gallant and “members of the Israeli war cabinet to discuss Israel’s current actions to defend itself and the urgent security assistance needs of the Israel Defense Forces,” he wrote.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Israel on Oct. 13, 2023. Video by Elad Malka (Israeli Ministry of Defense).
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