update deskIsrael at War

US defense chief urges Israel to uphold ‘regional stability’

Lloyd Austin also reiterated "steadfast" U.S. support for Israel's defense.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant overnight Monday to reinforce Washington’s commitment to the Jewish state’s security and emphasize the importance of upholding regional stability.

The two men “discuss[ed] the aftermath of Iran’s unprecedented April 13 attacks, which U.S., Israeli, and partner forces thwarted in a combined defensive operation. The Secretary reiterated steadfast U.S. support for Israel’s defense and reaffirmed the strategic goal of regional stability,” according to a Pentagon readout of the call.

Israel’s War Cabinet is in the process of deciding on a “painful” response to the Islamic Republic’s massive drone and missile assault overnight Saturday.

Gallant, a member of the War Cabinet, reportedly told Austin on Sunday night that the Jewish state had no choice but to respond to the aerial attacks, stressing that Jerusalem could not accept a reality in which ballistic missiles are fired at Israeli territory without repercussions.

The Islamic Republic launched more than 300 drones and missiles at the Jewish state in a direct attack. The IDF said that Israel and its partners, including the United States, intercepted some 99% of the projectiles, calling it a “significant strategic achievement” and noting that none of the 170 UAVs sent by Tehran penetrated Israeli territory.

“We are looking ahead,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told troops on Monday. “We are considering our steps, and this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response.”

Other western governments have called on Israel to refrain from retaliating against Iran and its proxies, fearing a regional war.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the international community should do “everything we can to avoid a flare-up.” He said he would attempt to convince Israel “that it should not respond by escalating, but rather by isolating Iran.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the United Kingdom would not take part in any military action against Iran, telling the BBC on Monday, “We’re saying very strongly that we don’t support a retaliatory strike. We don’t think they should make one.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told a meeting of the Security Council that Israel and Iran should “step back from the brink.”

Israel’s Kan News reported that Group of Seven (G7) leaders, meeting on Sunday, agreed to use “all channels of influence” to prevent Israel from attacking Iran.

U.S. President Joe Biden reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington will not support an Israeli retaliatory attack.

“You got a win. Take the win,” Biden told Netanyahu, according to the report.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that Washington was coordinating a diplomatic response intended to prevent further escalation.

“Strength and wisdom must be the two sides of the same coin,” Blinken said.

Also on Monday, White House spokesman John Kirby said, “[Biden] is certainly not looking for a war with Iran and I am confident that Prime Minister Netanyahu is aware of the president’s concerns.”

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