U.S. Reaffirms Support for Israel as Prospect of Gaza Ground Operation Increases

by Ethan Kim
U.S.-Israel Relations

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated America’s commitment to Israel, stating, “we stand by you,” during high-level meetings on Friday with both Israeli and Arab dignitaries. However, there was no sign that the U.S. government is actively intervening to deter a prospective Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, an action that could exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation for the 2.3 million Palestinians confined within the blockaded area.

The diplomatic engagements by Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken occur as Israel intensifies its military campaign against Hamas militants, a response to the group’s recent attacks that were widely condemned for their severity.

On Friday, Israel called for the evacuation of approximately one million civilians from northern Gaza in advance of an anticipated military incursion. Many Palestinians initiated a large-scale movement towards the southern parts of the embattled region, despite Hamas dismissing the evacuation order as a subterfuge. Concurrently, the United Nations warned against the potentially devastating repercussions of such large-scale displacement.

When questioned about the potential for civilian casualties in Gaza, Austin defended Israel’s right to self-defense. He highlighted his prior interactions with Israeli military forces, praising their professionalism, discipline, and focus. In his conversations with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the Israeli War Cabinet, as well as with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Austin reiterated the U.S. government’s supportive stance, saying, “As the president has indicated, we stand by you.”

Simultaneously, Blinken engaged with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Arab nations, following his discussions with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv the previous day. Arab leaders expressed concerns over the trapped Palestinian population in Gaza and the possibility that an Israeli ground assault could force an influx of Gaza residents into their countries.

During his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah, who governs a nation with a significant Palestinian demographic and has a vested interest in their welfare, Blinken heard warnings against any efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians. King Abdullah emphasized the importance of establishing humanitarian aid corridors into Gaza and advocated for the unhindered operation of international agencies.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller noted that Blinken is also working towards the release of hostages taken by Hamas and discussed measures to prevent the conflict from escalating further.

On the military assistance front, Austin observed some of the recently-delivered U.S. munitions and defense technology to Israel. A senior defense official disclosed that the U.S. had already supplied Israel with small-diameter bombs and interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome defense system, with additional aid forthcoming.

Austin has been in regular communication with Gallant and has facilitated the quick reallocation of U.S. military assets, including warships and aircraft, to Israel and the surrounding region. The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier group is presently deployed in the eastern Mediterranean, with another carrier setting sail from Virginia.

While Austin did not confirm U.S. surveillance activities in the region, it was noted that the U.S. is offering intelligence and strategic advice to the Israelis, including counsel on hostage situations.

In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” President Joe Biden stated his intent to communicate directly with the families of U.S. hostages held by Hamas, emphasizing his deep concern over the situation. “This is a critical issue. This is not just inhumane; it’s outright barbaric,” he said.

In Blinken’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he reiterated many of the points made in his discussions with King Abdullah. Blinken expressed condolences for the loss of Palestinian civilian lives and emphasized that “Hamas does not represent the rights or the aspirations of the Palestinian people for dignity and self-determination.”

Later in the day, Blinken is slated to meet Qatari officials in Doha who maintain close ties with Hamas. They are reportedly exploring a prisoner exchange deal between Palestinians held in Israel and Israelis and other foreign nationals taken hostage by Hamas.

Blinken’s itinerary includes stops in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt over the coming weekend. The diplomatic tour is an attempt to engage key Arab states, some of which are contemplating normalizing relations with Israel, a process currently in abeyance.

The report includes contributions from Lee, based in Amman, Jordan, and Omar Akour, also reporting from Amman.

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

What is the main message conveyed by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken during their meetings?

The main message from Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken is a reaffirmation of U.S. support for Israel. Austin explicitly stated, “we stand by you,” in his conversations with Israeli officials. However, neither official indicated that the U.S. would intervene to prevent a possible Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

What are the Arab leaders’ concerns regarding the conflict?

Arab leaders express concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the potential for an Israeli ground operation to push a large number of Gaza residents into neighboring Arab countries. They also called for the establishment of humanitarian aid corridors for the Palestinians trapped in Gaza.

What is King Abdullah of Jordan’s stance on the issue?

King Abdullah of Jordan, who governs a nation with a significant Palestinian population, warned against any efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians. He emphasized the need for humanitarian corridors and for international agencies to operate unhindered in the region.

Is the U.S. offering any military assistance to Israel?

Yes, the U.S. has supplied Israel with small-diameter bombs and interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome air defense system. Austin observed some of the recently-delivered U.S. munitions and defense technology during his visit, and a senior defense official disclosed that more aid is forthcoming.

What are the U.S. government’s efforts regarding hostages taken by Hamas?

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is working towards the release of hostages taken by Hamas and discussed measures to prevent the conflict from escalating further. President Joe Biden also expressed his intent to communicate directly with the families of U.S. hostages held by Hamas.

What did President Joe Biden say about the situation in a CBS interview?

In a CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview, President Joe Biden expressed deep concern over the hostage situation and described it as “outright barbaric.” He emphasized the need to communicate to the world that this is a critical and inhumane issue.

Is the U.S. planning any surveillance activities in the conflict region?

The text does not confirm whether the U.S. is conducting surveillance flights in the region. However, it is mentioned that the U.S. is offering intelligence and strategic advice to Israel, including counsel on the hostage situation.

More about U.S.-Israel Relations

  • U.S. Defense Department Statement on Israel
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Remarks on Middle East Diplomacy
  • United Nations Report on Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
  • CBS “60 Minutes” Interview with President Joe Biden
  • Jordan’s Government Statement on King Abdullah’s Meeting with Blinken
  • U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller’s Briefing
  • Overview of Iron Dome Air Defense System
  • Analysis of U.S.-Israel Military Assistance
  • Report on Hamas and Hostage Situation
  • Arab Leaders’ Concerns on Gaza Conflict

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John D October 13, 2023 - 5:06 pm

Wow, the situation seems really tense. It’s surprising the US is not intervening to stop the ground invasion. What about the civilians?

Emily H October 13, 2023 - 10:16 pm

This is really disheartening. We should be focused on deescalating the situation, not adding more fuel to the fire.

Sarah M October 13, 2023 - 11:25 pm

Looks like diplomacy’s taking a backseat. So many lives at risk and yet, no concrete steps to prevent it?

Betty L October 14, 2023 - 12:57 am

No talk about humanitarian aid, just military support? thats concerning.

Tony J October 14, 2023 - 1:14 am

Looks like politics as usual. Sad to see no real effort in conflict resolution.

Robert W October 14, 2023 - 5:40 am

Interesting to see the US stance here. But how about focusing on the humanitarian aspect? Seems like we’re just supplying arms.

Mike L October 14, 2023 - 5:50 am

i can’t believe they’re just gonna stand by. Whats happening to diplomacy and peace talks?

Nina S October 14, 2023 - 6:44 am

Wonder what this means for the future of US-Arab relations. Seems complicated.

Linda G October 14, 2023 - 7:32 am

While i get that nations have the right to defend themselves, what about the innocent people caught in the crossfire?

Mark R October 14, 2023 - 12:43 pm

Real eye-opener this. Diplomacy seems dead, its all about military might now.


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