Americas, Middle East

US defense chief underlines Washington's 'firm' support for Israel

US Department of Defense stands ready to deploy additional assets to support Israel, adds Secretary Lloyd Austin

Ahmet Gencturk  | 11.10.2023 - Update : 11.10.2023
US defense chief underlines Washington's 'firm' support for Israel


The US on Wednesday reaffirmed that it stood "firm" with Tel Aviv as clashes continue between the Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian group Hamas.

In a joint news conference with Joint Chief of Staff Charles Brown at NATO headquarters in Brussels, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Hamas was responsible for the current situation in the conflict, accusing the group of killing Israelis only for being Jewish.

"The US stands firm with Israel and will continue to ensure that Israel has what it needs to keep itself and its citizens safe," Austin said, following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contract Group.

As part of the US commitment to Israel's security, Washington sent the naval strike group of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean and decided to extend the US Air Force's presence in the region, he said.

"And the Department of Defense stands fully ready to deploy additional assets, if necessary," added Austin.

Without singling out any actor in particular, he also warned against outside involvement and widening the escalation.

"Make no mistake, the United States will remain able to project power and to direct resources to tackle crises in multiple theaters," Austin said.

As for support to Ukraine, he maintained that the US and Europe would continue backing Kyiv as long as it takes.

He pointed to recent decisions by the US and European countries including Germany, France, Sweden, and Bulgaria to support Ukraine with much-needed weapon systems and ammunitions in its war with Russia. ​​​​​​​

The conflict began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air, which Hamas said was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

In response to Hamas' actions, the Israeli military launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip. Israel's response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has reeled under a crippling siege since 2007.

More than 2,300 people have been killed in the current bout of violence, including at least 1,100 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis.

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