Austin says he discussed the future of Gaza with top Israeli officials

11:24, Tuesday, 19 December, 2023
Austin says he discussed the future of Gaza with top Israeli officials

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is visiting Israel on Monday to get a clearer assessment from Israeli officials on their military operations, marking the latest administration official to visit the country amid an intensifying rift between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over mounting civilian casualties in Gaza.

Biden is under increasing pressure, domestically and internationally, to push Netanyahu away from the heavy bombardment of Gaza, which has sparked global outcry and calls for a sustained ceasefire.

Speaking at a joint news conference on Monday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Austin said he discussed pathways “toward a future for Gaza after Hamas” with Israeli officials and the protection of civilians in Gaza, and the need “to take urgent action to stabilize the West Bank.”
     “Attacks by extremist settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop,” Austin said. “And those committing the violence must be held accountable.”

“[I]t would compound this tragedy if all that was waiting for the Israeli people and your Palestinian neighbors at the end of this awful war was more insecurity, fury, and despair,” he added. “As I have said, Israelis and Palestinians have both paid too bitter a price to just go back to October 6.”

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