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U.S. Defense Chief Austin Reassures Israel’s Netanyahu of Continued Support Amidst Hamas Assault

by Ethan Kim
8 comments
U.S.-Israel Relations

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin assured Israeli leadership of steadfast American support in the initial stages of their conflict with the militant group, Hamas. Austin extended minimal public disapproval regarding Israel’s extraordinary request for nearly one million residents to vacate northern Gaza.

Austin is the second senior U.S. official dispatched by President Joe Biden to Israel within 48 hours. His visit provided him an opportunity to inspect the military hardware and security aid that the U.S. rapidly delivered to Israel in the aftermath of the initial attack. Austin emphasized the need for resolve over retribution, strategic action over hasty reactions, and fortification over capitulation during these trying times.

Following closely behind Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit, Austin’s trip originates from Brussels, where he attended a NATO defense ministers conference. Blinken remains engaged in urgent diplomacy in the Middle East, aimed at preventing the conflict from escalating further in the region.

Israel’s military has instructed civilians in Gaza City to leave for their safety, ahead of an anticipated ground invasion. This directive has been countered by Hamas leaders in Gaza, who have called on the Palestinian population to stay put and resist.

When questioned about the potential for civilian casualties in Gaza, Austin responded that Israel maintains its right to self-defense. Having collaborated with the Israeli military in his past military service, he commended them for their professionalism, discipline, and focus.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant avoided answering whether Israel would give civilians only 24 hours to exit Gaza but mentioned that those wishing to safeguard their lives should head south.

Before addressing the media, Austin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reaffirming that, as President Biden had stated, the U.S. stands firmly with Israel.

Defense officials accompanying Austin conveyed that his visit aims to underscore the unwavering American commitment to Israel’s security. Further armaments from the U.S. were en route, according to Gallant.

A senior defense official indicated that the U.S. has already supplied Israel with small-diameter bombs and interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome system, with additional aid planned. Austin has been in frequent communication with Gallant and has ordered a swift repositioning of U.S. naval vessels, intelligence support, and other assets to the region. This move was made shortly after a violent cross-border attack by Hamas into Israel.

The USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group is already stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, with a second carrier set to depart from Virginia.

Austin refrained from commenting on U.S. surveillance activities in the region but confirmed that intelligence and other forms of planning support are being provided to the Israelis, including counsel on hostage situations.

President Biden, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” said he would speak to families of U.S. hostages held by Hamas, emphasizing his deep concern for their situation and vowing to do everything in his power to secure their release.

A day after his visit to Israel, Blinken met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman and subsequently with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Blinken’s discussions encompassed efforts to halt the widening of the conflict and focused on the immediate humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza.

King Abdullah II called for the opening of humanitarian corridors into Gaza and voiced concerns about any forced displacement of Palestinians. He also stressed the need for the protection of innocent civilians on all sides, in accordance with international laws and humanitarian principles.

In a later meeting scheduled in Doha, Qatar, Blinken is expected to interact with Qatari officials who maintain close ties with Hamas. Discussions are anticipated to involve a potential prisoner exchange. Blinken’s diplomatic itinerary also includes stops in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.


Contributions to this report were made by Matthew Lee and Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about U.S.-Israel Relations

Who visited Israel to reaffirm U.S. support during the conflict with Hamas?

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Israel to assure the leadership of unwavering American support during the initial stages of their conflict with the militant group Hamas.

What was the main message conveyed by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during his visit?

The main message conveyed by Lloyd Austin was one of steadfast American support for Israel. He emphasized the need for resolve over retribution, strategic action over hasty reactions, and fortification over capitulation.

Was Lloyd Austin the only high-level U.S. official to visit Israel recently?

No, Lloyd Austin’s visit came closely behind that of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is also engaged in urgent Mideast diplomacy to prevent the conflict from escalating into a broader regional crisis.

What was Israel’s military directive to Gaza City residents?

Israel’s military has instructed residents of Gaza City to evacuate for their own safety, potentially in anticipation of a ground offensive. This directive has been countered by Hamas leaders, who have urged Palestinians to stay put and resist.

What kinds of military aid has the U.S. provided to Israel?

The U.S. has supplied Israel with small-diameter bombs and interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome system. Additional aid is also planned, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed that further armaments from the U.S. were en route.

What is the role of other U.S. officials, like Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in this situation?

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been engaged in urgent diplomacy in the Middle East, aimed at preventing the conflict from escalating further. He has held talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, among others.

Is the U.S. deploying any additional military assets to the region?

Yes, the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group is already stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, and a second carrier is set to depart from Virginia to head to the region.

What did President Biden say regarding U.S. hostages held by Hamas?

President Biden, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” said he would speak to the families of U.S. hostages held by Hamas, emphasizing his deep concern for their situation and vowing to do everything in his power to secure their release.

What is the international response to the conflict?

While the text focuses primarily on U.S. involvement, it mentions that Jordanian King Abdullah II has called for the opening of humanitarian corridors into Gaza and warned against forced displacement of Palestinians.

What are the future diplomatic steps planned by Secretary of State Antony Blinken?

Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Qatari officials who maintain close ties with Hamas and is expected to discuss a potential prisoner exchange. His diplomatic itinerary also includes stops in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.

More about U.S.-Israel Relations

  • U.S. Department of Defense Official Statement
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Middle East Diplomacy
  • Iron Dome Missile Defense System
  • President Biden’s CBS “60 Minutes” Interview
  • United Nations Report on Gaza Evacuations
  • Jordanian King Abdullah II’s Statement on the Conflict
  • Overview of U.S.-Israel Relations
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Position
  • NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels
  • USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier Deployment Information

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8 comments

Sarah Thompson October 14, 2023 - 4:39 am

Did anyone catch what Biden said in that 60 Minutes interview? Really eye-opening about his stance on hostages held by Hamas. Seems deeply invested.

Reply
Emily Davis October 14, 2023 - 4:49 am

Wow, Austin’s comments are pretty strong, aren’t they? makes u wonder how far the US will go to back Israel in this.

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John Smith October 14, 2023 - 5:16 am

Gotta say, this shows how deep the US-Israel relationship really is. Austin isn’t wasting any time showing where America stands.

Reply
Michael O'Reilly October 14, 2023 - 9:23 am

Is anyone else concerned about the potential for a wider conflict? Blinken’s hopping from one country to the next for a reason.

Reply
George Harris October 14, 2023 - 10:41 am

Blinken’s meeting with Qatari officials could be a game changer. they’ve got ties with Hamas and might help in negotiating.

Reply
Rachel Green October 14, 2023 - 11:32 am

Intriguing to see how diffrent officials are playing roles here. Austin’s all about military support and Blinken’s into diplomacy. Different sides of the same coin?

Reply
Laura Miller October 14, 2023 - 11:55 am

Seriously, what’s gonna happen to the civilians in Gaza? The text talks about a million people being told to evacuate, that’s a humanitarian crisis waiting to happen.

Reply
Alex Williams October 14, 2023 - 1:26 pm

The military aid part got me thinking. How much more is gonna be sent to Israel? And what about humanitarian aid for Gaza?

Reply

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