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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visits Israel, solidifying the US’s commitment after recent Hamas attacks.
Austin reinforced the Biden administration’s unwavering support for Israel during his meeting with key Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. He conveyed to Netanyahu, “We’re with you, Mr. Prime Minister. And as [President Biden] said, we have your back,” drawing parallels between the aggression of Hamas and the viciousness of ISIS. Austin was quoted saying, “The deliberate cruelty of Hamas vividly reminds me of ISIS: bloodthirsty, fanatical, and hateful.” He further highlighted the severe nature of the attack, calling it “The deadliest attack on Israel in the history of the state of Israel and the bloodiest day in Jewish history since the end of the Holocaust.” He assured that the US will ensure Israel has the resources to defend its people.
Austin’s remarks to reporters centered on the denunciation of terrorism, emphasizing, “There is never any justification for terrorism.” He urged global actors to denounce and distance themselves from Hamas, stating the group does not represent the broader Palestinian aspirations for statehood and peace with Israel.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Israel has alerted a million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate in anticipation of potential military operations. Since Hamas’s initial assault on Saturday, over 1,300 Israelis and 1,500 Palestinians have tragically lost their lives. This visit by Austin comes closely on the heels of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Israel just the previous day.