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US Defense Secretary Arrives in Israel for Talks on Gaza Conflict

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel on Monday for talks on the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

Austin, who is accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown, is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Israel’s war Cabinet during his visit.

The top defense official will press Israeli leaders to “transition to a new phase of the war” in Gaza after weeks of heavy strikes and a ground offensive, according to The Times of Israel newspaper.

Austin said on X that he will “reiterate America’s ironclad commitment to Israel, discuss IDF ops to dismantle Hamas, & underscore the need to protect civilians from harm & enable the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Last week, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visited Israel for talks with Israeli officials on the timetable of the Gaza war.

Israel’s air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas have killed more than 18,800 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to health authorities in the enclave.

The war has left Gaza in ruins with half of the coastal territory’s housing stock damaged or destroyed, and nearly 2 million people displaced within the densely-populated enclave amid shortages of food and clean water.

Nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack, while more than 130 hostages remain in captivity.

Source : AA