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Austin Urges Israeli Counterpart to De-escalate Conflict With Hamas

May 19, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Israeli counterpart Defense Minister Benny Gantz this morning and again urged de-escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.

Kirby spoke at a press "gaggle" and said the secretary underscored his support for Israel's right to defend itself. Gantz reviewed the military campaign in Gaza with Austin. 

Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel replied to the attack. People on both sides of this conflict have been killed and wounded.

Iron Dome missile system is on display on a tarmac.
Iron Dome Missile System
A U.S. Army Iron Dome anti-missile system sits on the apron at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel sometime in 2020. The Iron Dome system has been invaluable in shooting down Hamas rockets launched from Gaza. The system is now in the United States. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has called on Israel and Hamas to de-escalate the situation.
Photo By: Jim Garamone, DOD
VIRIN: 210519-D-FN314-001M

President Joe Biden has been in close contact with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since the fighting started. He has continually urged the Israeli leader to de-escalate the situation. U.S. officials want to see the violence and loss of innocent lives ended.

"We want to see the violence come to a close. The secretary shares the sentiments … expressed by the President," Kirby said. "Certainly, the secretary expressed [to Gantz], again, our deep concerns over the loss of innocent lives. We don't believe that violent conflict there is in anybody's interest."