U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his counterparts in Israel and Ukraine on Saturday as the U.S. government continues to support the two countries in their respective wars.
In speaking to Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, Austin reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself while also pointing out the need to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian relief to people impacted by the war against Hamas terrorists.
Austin “reaffirmed Israel’s right to self-defense and reiterated the importance of both protecting civilians and delivering humanitarian relief,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a readout of the call. “He emphasized the need to contain the conflict to Gaza and avoid regional escalation.”
More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against Israel in decades on Oct. 7, prompting a military response from Israeli forces. Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.
The U.S. and the international community have been working to supply civilians in Gaza with humanitarian aid in the wake of the violence in the region. This included Egypt, Israel and the United Nations facilitating a 20-truck convoy carrying humanitarian assistance that was delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing less than two weeks after the war began. Officials have since continued to work on delivering aid to Gaza.
The secretary also separately spoke over the phone with Ukrainian Minister of Defence Rustem Umerov about Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, which has been ongoing since February 2022.
In the call with Umerov, Austin discussed the latest battlefield developments, security assistance priorities and plans for the next Ukraine Defense Contact Group scheduled for later in November, according to Ryder.
The two leaders pledged to remain in close contact, Ryder said.