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Israeli defense minister to travel to US 'soon': Pentagon

June 15, 2024 at 7:00 pm

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) in Tel Aviv, Israel on January 09, 2024. [Elad Malka (IMoD) – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will travel to the US “soon” to meet Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Pentagon said on Saturday, adding date has not been set yet, Anadolu Agency reports.

“During his call June 11 with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, @SecDef invited him to visit the Pentagon to further discuss ongoing security developments in the Middle East.

“Minister Gallant has accepted the invitation and will travel to the US soon (date/time TBD),” spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said on X.

The defense chiefs on Tuesday discussed efforts to de-escalate tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border “in the wake of Lebanese Hizballah’s increased aggression,” according to a statement.

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Austin congratulated Gallant on the recent rescue of four Israeli hostages from Hamas, killing at least 274 Palestinians and wounding more than 700.

When asked about Palestinian civilians that were killed in the hostage operation, Pentagon spokeswoman on Thursday said the US is “deeply concerned” by some of the reports when it comes to civilian casualties.

“It’s something that we’re going to continue to speak to the Israelis about. It’s something that we’re concerned about,” Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told the reporters, saying she did not have anything additional to add other than the phone call readout.

Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by Hamas despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.

Nearly 37,300 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and more than 85,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Over eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

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