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Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh Holds a Press Briefing


Just a few things at the top and then I'd be happy to jump in and take your questions.

On Secretary Austin's first full day as Secretary of Defense, he made countering sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military a top priority. Over the past three years, the department has taken unprecedented steps to tackle this problem. This includes swift and rigorous implementation of the improved recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, as well as the establishment of the Offices of Special Trial Counsel.

Today, the Department of Defense released its Fiscal Year 2023 annual report on sexual assault in the military. Its findings demonstrate that the department is making progress to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the military.

This is the first time the department has seen a decrease in the prevalence of sexual assault in more than eight years. These early findings are encouraging. However, Secretary Austin has said we have far more work to do and that his only acceptable number of instances of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the U.S. military is zero. We owe it to all of our service members, DOD civilians, and their families to get this right.

Switching gears, turning to an update of the maritime humanitarian corridor off the coast of Gaza. Earlier this morning, U.S. Central Command successfully anchored the temporary pier to the beach in Gaza with the help of IDF engineers and without any U.S. boots on the ground in Gaza. This group of IDF engineers were specially trained for this mission by U.S. Army engineers in the preceding weeks on a beach in Israel, and again, I'll reiterate that there were no U.S. boots on the ground. 

As you can see from the photos here on this monitor, the establishment of the Trident pier has been coordinated to support USAID's and the UN's effort to deliver and distribute aid. In the coming days, aid will be offloaded from the ships at a floating roll-on/roll-off distribution facility, ferried to this Trident pier, and then driven to the shore in Gaza, where USAID and the UN will manage the distribution.

And I'd just like to highlight a few key points. The purpose of this temporary pier is to deliver critical humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. The pier is temporary and not meant to replace land routes into Gaza.

And last, this is an internationally-backed effort coordinated with the United Nations. The U.S. military is merely providing the logistical support to enable humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza from the sea. For weeks, we have been working side-by-side with the USAID team, the Cypriots, the Israelis, and the United Nations to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

Today, we have hundreds of tons of aid ready for delivery and thousands of tons of aid in the pipeline. Some of this aid has already been loaded onto Motor Vessel Roy P. Benavidez, which is currently off the coast of Gaza.

To emphasize again, this is a mission to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, and an attack on those dedicated to this mission would jeopardize the lifesaving aid needed for the Palestinian people. 

And staying within the CENTCOM area of responsibility, Exercise Eager Lion hosted by Jordan began this week with Jordan, the United States, and 33 additional partner nations. This is the 11th iteration of this annual exercise and underscores the United States' commitment to interoperability with our partners in the region while refining our ability to defend against hybrid threats by state and non-state actors.

As we work to deter and address aggressive actions by maligned actors around the world, these kinds of exercises and partnerships enable us to meet new and continuing threats together. The U.S. military participates in more than 80 exercises with partner nations in the U.S. CENTCOM area of responsibility each year to strengthen mil-to-mil relationships, promote regional security, and improve interoperability with our partner nations.

And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions. 

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. So a question on distribution. When can we expect to see the first aid actually reach Gaza, and not just get to the marshaling area but actually get into the hands of those who need it most?

MS. SINGH: So we should expect aid to flow within the coming days, and that will be through the marshaling area into Gaza. We're not looking for aid to just sit in that marshaling area, so it will be pretty immediate. Once our ships are able to get to the pier and transload that aid onto the pier, you'll see it happen pretty quickly.

Q: But is there any risk that there'll be backups like we've seen at these other gates, where there's actually trucks ready to then take the aid out of the marshaling areas? Are there any guarantees from the Israelis that that's going to flow and they've got the safe routes to go and that coordination's in place?

MS. SINGH: So we've worked very closely with the IDF, and not just the IDF — with the UN, with USAID, and other NGOs that are going to be facilitating the movement and distribution of this aid. We should not see any backups within what you're describing as from the marshaling area into Gaza. We believe that aid should flow without any stoppage.

I have to emphasize though this is not the solve, this is an additive measure to the land routes, and we know that the land routes are the best, most — quickest, most efficient way to get aid in. This is just one injected way to get aid into the Palestinian people.

Q: And any delays or complications by the fact that there's so many newly displaced civilians because of the operations going on in Rafah?

MS. SINGH: Not to my knowledge. Yeah.

Q: You say "in the coming days." If it's — if it's anchored to the beach now and the Benavidez has the aid onboard, why can't you off — offload it now? What's — the holdup?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, so there's still just making sure everything is set and ready to go. I said it will be in the coming days. When we have more to provide, we certainly will, but I don't expect this is going to be a long wait time here. We already have aids loaded with, you know, hundreds and hundreds of tons on ships. So we do want to get it moving but, you know, we want to make sure everything is in place. And then as soon as the Commander feels that we are ready to go, that aid will start moving.

Q: And we've been told 90 trucks per day initially, ramping up to 150. Presumably you'll do a dry run. Is that five trucks, 10 trucks? Do we have any sense?

MS. SINGH: So I think I said this earlier this week, but you should really think of this as a crawl, walk, run. This is going to be slow at first. We're going to do our, you know, initial runs, making sure that everything flows, that nothing — as to Tara's question, that nothing does get backed up, as it shouldn't, that aid can flow from the pier, directly from the marshaling area into Gaza.

And then, you know, once that is set, once we reach full operational capacity, you'll be able to see more trucks rolling off.

Q: What commitments have the Israelis made in terms of facilitating the convoys when they're in Gaza? And how are you and I guess them going to ensure there isn't another sort of World Food Kitchen scenario where they strike aid vehicles?

MS. SINGH: I think that's a great question, and that's why we have the two deconfliction cells that have been set up in Cyprus and in Israel. It is to ensure that we have our NGO partners, the UN, sitting side-by-side with us, with the IDF, to make sure that we're all talking to each other, that deconfliction does happen, and so that these aid convoys can continue on.

Q: (inaudible) aid convoy as it's going through Gaza?

MS. SINGH: So, I'm not going to get into more specifics on that, but I can tell you that we have — the team has worked very, very hard to make sure that aid can come off the pier and can get distributed quickly into Gaza. We know how dire the humanitarian situation is on the ground, and so, we want to make sure that aid gets in as quickly as possible.

Q: Quick question. Israel's defense minister has sort of come out in recent days and sort of opposed any long-term military Israeli rule of Gaza. Is that something he has brought up with the secretary in the many conversations that he's had with Austin?

MS. SINGH: So, I won't get into more details on their private conversations. But what I can tell you is we also share the same sentiment. We want to see a two-state solution. And when it comes to the future of Gaza, we don't support an Israeli occupation. But right now, what we're focused on is, of course, the maritime humanitarian corridor and making sure that aid can get in as quickly as possible. 

Q: I have a question about Rafah, over the course of the past several days, since May 7, when Israel first went into Rafah, you called it a limited operation, and yet we have seen Israel push farther and farther in. Do you still believe this operation is limited or is this simply a full-scale invasion in incremental stages?

MS. SINGH: We do not believe that at this time, right now, that this is a full-scale invasion. We still assess that it is limited, and what the IDF is doing is limited in its operations. But to be clear, we don't support ongoing operations in Rafah, given the size and scale of a humanitarian population there. And we've said that both very publicly and privately to our Israeli counterparts.

Q: Just a quick follow up. When you say we assess that it's limited, are the Israelis not telling you their intent with Rafah, what they — what they intend to do or how far they intend to go?

MS. SINGH: Well, I mean, I think the Israelis have said pretty publicly that they want to get rid of every single Hamas battalion that still exists in Rafah. And our concern, we share the sentiment. We certainly want to see Hamas eradicated and destroyed or defeated. What we continue to emphasize, though, is how you go about doing those operations, and especially with over a million people sheltering there in Rafah. We have our concerns, and we've certainly shared those concerns. 

Q: A couple questions following up on JLOTS. First, how long is the temporary pier going to be able to stay off the coast of Gaza, given the fall weather that may be coming up?

MS. SINGH: So, I don't have a timeline for you right now. As you probably heard Vice Admiral Cooper speak to this earlier today, weather conditions right now are pretty good throughout the summer, but I just don't have a timeline to put on the temporary pier other than to say it is designed to be temporary. This is not going to be a permanent way of getting aid into Gaza by using the JLOTS system.

Q: And then I just wanted to ask you about, I know the president announced last week that he had paused some shipments, one shipment of weapons to Israel. I'm wondering if the Pentagon has delivered any additional shipments of other weapons or the same kind of weapons since then?

MS. SINGH: So, it's still that one shipment that has been paused. And those are those high payload bombs that we paused that shipment on a week or two ago. Security systems does continue to flow to Israel, though. There have been shipments since going into Israel, but not those high payload munitions. 

Q: Sabrina, so, on the pier issue, the UN seems worried about the possibility or the feasibility of getting this aid off the pier to northern Gaza, where they say the need is most acute. Considering the location of this pier, do you have guarantees from the Israelis that these trucks will be able to reach northern Gaza?

MS. SINGH: We believe that the trucks will be able to reach the populations that need them most, which include northern Gaza. But again, that's really something for the UN to speak to as they're handling the distribution of that. USAID is, of course, working with the UN to ensure that supplies, whether it be food, water, medical, can continue to get to those who need it most. But it's really the UN that should speak to where they're going to target some of their deliveries.

Q: And with the Israeli occupation forces, since they are being — they are the party that is targeting aid workers, and they can block these trucks from getting to northern Gaza since they occupy parts of Gaza. So, did you get any guarantees from the Israeli forces that they will let the UN distribute aid in northern Gaza?

MS. SINGH: So, something that I think you should remember, Fadi, is that we've had the UN working within Gaza for a very long time, since the war started. So, UN workers are familiar with some of the checkpoints, and we believe that through the deconfliction cells, that will enable these trucks to get to where they need to and as quickly as possible and to the populations that need them most, whether it be in the north or elsewhere. We want to ensure or we want to see the aid get to where it needs. 

But I have to remind you, and I know you know this, but the amount of trucks coming off of the pier is not going to be the same of what can come from the land crossings. So, we have to see those land routes open. And the quickest way to get aid in, whether it be the north or anywhere else in Gaza, is going to be through those land routes. This is just meant to be an additive measure.

Q: And finally, obviously, fuel is very important to delivering this aid through trucks and crucial for medical operation in Gaza.


Q: Are you going to be delivering fuel as well? Since Israel closed most of the land routes?

MS. SINGH: Right now, the focus is just on humanitarian aid. So, that includes food and water right now.

Q: Where do these trucks get fuel from?

MS. SINGH: Well, the fuel is coming in through land routes. We want to see those land routes continue to open. There's not enough trucks that have been going through on those land routes. That's something that every single conversation the secretary has with his counterpart, it is raised and not speak on behalf of others across this building. But it is certainly raised by other agencies across the administration. 

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. Do you have any indications that Hamas may actually intend to threaten the JLOTS system? And there have been these other incidents recently, then it seemed to indicate that there was attacks, but they weren't directly related anywhere near this marshalling area. So, can you tell us, I mean, do you have any indications that Hamas is starting- and is that a good thing?

MS. SINGH: We have been very clear, and I will say, have tried to be as open and public as possible, that everything to do with this pier is about getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza. We don't have any indications that there should be any attacks on this pier. But should there be attacks, either towards the humanitarian — the maritime humanitarian corridor or around the marshaling area, that is going to directly affect Palestinian people, the people that need this aid the most. 

So, if Hamas decides to attack this area, they are directly harming people in Gaza that are starving, that need this aid at a critical time. So, we haven't seen any indications of that. We were able to secure the pier in overnight. We're always assessing the security situation and working with the IDF, who's also helping provide security for our forces. But right now, we're just focused on getting that aid in. 

Q: Thank you, Sabrina. The Sunday meeting between Russia and China, OK? Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China-Russia relations are at the best level in history. And Russia President Putin announced that he will visit Harbin Institute of Technology, which is sanctioned by United States in connection with missile development. How do you concern the strengthening of military cooperation between China and Russia?

MS. SINGH: I don't really have anything to offer on the meeting. What I can tell you is that we've been very clear with any countries that offer Russia assistance when it comes to their unjust war in Ukraine. Again, this is a country that attacked its sovereign neighbor. The United States is proud to stand strong with the coalition that we have built through the Ukraine defense contact group, and that's what we're focused on.

Q: President Xi Jinping said that the peace talks on Ukraine should be discussed based on proposal made by China. How do you feel on this?

MS. SINGH: Yes, I'm going to let Ukraine speak to its own sovereignty and decisions that it makes going forward. What we're focused on, as you know, is providing the equipment, the capabilities that Ukraine needs on the battlefield to be successful. They are in the fight of their lives. We're seeing that around Kharkiv. We're seeing Russian forces amass around there, which is why you've seen us since we got that supplemental package, surge assistance to Ukraine. And we believe some of that is getting to the front lines as quickly as possible. But what we want to see is Ukraine be successful in its fight against Russia. And I'll just leave it at that. 

Q: I have a couple on Ukraine, and then one on Niger. So, we've heard a number of times from the U.S. officials that U.S. does not want Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia with American weapons. In the wake of Russian offense and attacks on Kharkiv, does U.S. consider changing that approach? Because that's what Ukrainians are asking for. It's very difficult for them to respond to these attacks that come literally from across the border when Russians know that they can basically be saved there.

MS. SINGH: Yes, we haven't changed our position. We believe that the equipment, the capabilities that we are giving Ukraine, that other countries are giving to Ukraine should be used to take back Ukrainian sovereign territory.

Q: Just a clarification, is this a request to Ukrainians or this is a binding condition that goes along with that?

MS. SINGH: We've made our requests pretty public on this. Again, I would reiterate that, in every single Ukraine defense contact group that the Secretary convenes, the weapons that are provided, again, it's for use on the battlefield. And the Secretary, in his conversations with Minister Umerov, talks through how best those capabilities can be used, and we believe that is within Ukrainian territory.

Q: What was concluded during the talk between U.S. and Niger officials on the withdrawal of American forces, and when will the withdrawal begin and how long is it expected to take?

MS. SINGH: So, I don't have a timeline for you to set just right this moment on a withdrawal. It will be an orderly withdrawal from Niger. The DoD led delegation is still there right now, so conversations are still ongoing, and I don't have anything to read out just yet. But since you're so interested, when we do have more to share, we certainly will. Yes?

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. It's been a while. What is the Pentagon's reaction to two Jordanian nationals caught breaking and entering a U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico?

MS. SINGH: So, I am aware of those reports. I just don't have more information for you. I believe the Marine Corps might have more, so I'd have to refer you to them to speak to it.

Q: I mean, this incident happened almost two weeks ago.


Q: You make it sound like you haven't heard of this incident before. Does that mean the Secretary hasn't been briefed?

MS. SINGH: I can assure you, Lucas, that we get updates from all of our bases all around the world and are aware of incidents. What I can tell you is force protection is always a priority at our DOD installations. I just don't have more to share on this particular incident. Whenever an incident like this happens, it usually starts an investigation process. And I just wouldn't be able to speak to that from here.

Q: Is the Secretary confident in the safety and security of U.S. military bases not only in this country but around the world?

MS. SINGH: He is.

Q: And can you confirm that he was briefed on this incident?

MS. SINGH: I can tell you, Lucas, that he tracks many different things all around the world. I'm not going to get into specific things that he's briefed on a daily basis but what I can tell you is the Secretary receives regular updates from what is happening within the U.S. and all around the world, whether it be at our bases or with our service members.

Q: Does the Secretary of Defense think the southern border is secure of the United States?

MS. SINGH: I would refer you to the Department of Homeland Security to speak more to that. This is the Department of Defense.

Q: So if you can talk a little bit about if you learned — the Pentagon have learned something about the meeting unprecedented Putin and Xi Jinping, in terms of the tools that the Chinese are providing to the Russians towards Ukraine, in terms of weapons and technologies?

MS. SINGH: I just don't have more for you right now. We have certainly been very public about we've been very outspoken about any country who wants to come to the aid of Russia is coming to the aid of a country that invaded its sovereign neighbor. But I just don't have more to share at this time.

Q: The U.S. and Israeli militaries have reached a security arrangement that ensures categorically the safety of everyone in the marshaling area. Why is it so difficult then to also ensure that the Israelis don't bomb the aid convoys leaving the marshaling area, given that — the close coordination? Why is that so difficult, to give a categorical assurance that they won't bomb these convoys as they have so many others?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, I don't think it's a matter of difficulty. We've set up two deconfliction cells, one in Cyprus and one in Israel, and you have folks from the UN, from USAID, from the U.S. military, and from the IDF embedded together, sitting next to each other in these cells, working to ensure that there is deconfliction happening as these trucks leave the marshaling area. 

So that's exactly what we are solving for, and we should not see and we don't want to see what has happened previously. We want to be able to see humanitarian aid reach those who need it most in the most efficient manner possible.

Q: The USAID spokesperson said yesterday that he wasn't satisfied yet with the deconfliction arrangement yet, and then he added that the maritime corridors exposed to — we do not think the JLOTS of the maritime corridor is exposed to any additional risk above and beyond that which is already present in Gaza. That's pretty frightening now, isn't it, given how many people have been killed ... 

MS. SINGH: I don't think we've come up here with rose-colored glasses and said that this is not a risk. This is an active war zone. What we — if I could just finish? So we had assurances from the IDF that they will provide security to U.S. forces that are operating and set up that temporary floating causeway. We will also have a presence of a destroyer in the region to ensure that U.S. forces are protected.

We take force protection very seriously. We would not have done an — a — put together a mission like this in coordination with the USAID without thinking about our forces that are going to be in — a — that could potentially be in harm's way.

Q: What about the aid workers? Where — where — where's that sort of ... 

MS. SINGH: So again, I'm going to tell you what I said earlier, at the top of — when you asked me that exact same question. We have two deconfliction cells set up, one in Cyprus, one in Israel. We have aid workers, we have UN workers, USAID, U.S. military, IDF sitting together in a cell for the exact question that you're asking, to deconflict on these important issues.

All right, moving on. 

Q: I want to say a quick thank you to the Pentagon team for these nine years, the way they have treated me so nicely. 

My first question is about there are rumors of a — Pakistani senator who has said that there was a drone attack in Pakistan. Can you confirm if the U.S. has conducted a drone attack in Pakistan?

MS. SINGH: I don't have anything for you on that.

Q: Yes. Regarding Afghanistan — because of my stroke, I didn't come for so many years — last couple of years, so this was a question that's been on my heart for a long time. Since 2001, when the U.S. went to Afghanistan, from the first veteran who gave his life for this country to the last ones at Kabul Airport after attacks — 11 servicemen who died, I have published it myself, the news stories of front page. And I never — it's an honor for every veteran to give his life for this country.

But that last day incident at the airport, where the 11 service members lost lives, I believe that the U.S. military should have launched — launched an investigation into Ashraf Ghani and (inaudible) for having contacts with Taliban. 

And this question, I have been wanting to ask the Pentagon for a long time, that while a journalist from that region for 45 years, having hung out with the U.S. soldiers in Kabul, in their restaurants and reporting for so long, would you support any investigation like this or no?

MS. SINGH: So I can tell you about — when it came to the withdrawal of Afghanistan, is there have now been two different investigations into what exactly happened. And I'd refer you to U.S. Central Command for that. We have done extensive — should say U.S. Central Command has conducted extensive interviews with people that were involved in that operation that were there that day.

At this moment, I'm not going to be able to read out all the findings from that investigation, but it is on their website and I'd direct you to that.

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. So last week, to CNN, President Biden said that he made it clear that if the Israeli government goes into Rafah, "I will not be supplying weapons that have use — been used historically to deal with cities." 

Of course, we've seen the Israelis use tanks in urban centers throughout this war, and in the latest arms package, which was — which is now on its way, expected to be approved, and was after Biden issued that statement, is $700 million in tank ammunition.

So his statement appears to be false. Is it the Pentagon's assessment that tanks will not be used in the invasion of Rafah?

MS. SINGH: I think you're significantly oversimplifying things. So what I would tell you to do is to do a little homework on the package that was approved, and that this is long-term sales that will be going to Israel. And the State Department would have more for you on that.

In terms of operating within an urban area, the Secretary, the President have been very clear that these type of high payload bombs, the 2,000-pound bombs, it's not necessary to be used in an urban area like Rafah. 

We are still — and I want to be very clear — we are still providing Israel the means to defend itself against its fight against Hamas, and you are still seeing shipments of weapons systems going to Israel and will continue to go through. That is some — that is a commitment this President has made.

But when it comes to that one shipment, that one shipment is paused.

Q: OK, but the — but in the shipment that is not paused is $700 million in tank munitions. And are you saying that — I can read you the Biden quote again, I just read it to you.

MS. SINGH: You don't have to. 

Q: OK.

MS. SINGH: ... I know it. Yeah.

Q: ... said "we're not going to supply weapons that have been" ... 

MS. SINGH: Yeah, you don't have to read it to me. I would direct you to — yeah?

Q: ... tanks have been used in (cities ?) in Gaza.

MS. SINGH: I would direct you to the State Department for more on the sales. That has to do with sales to Israel. I just don't have that in front of me.

Q: ... so we are providing ... 

MS. SINGH: I'm going to move on to the next question.

Q: OK.

MS. SINGH: Yeah?

Q: Thank you, Sabrina. My question is on China. Today, Assistant Secretary Dr. Ratner spoke with PRC Office of International Military Cooperation Director. Given today's call, do you think China is willing to engage in high-level defense discussions with the U.S. side?

MS. SINGH: Well, that was certainly a commitment that was made at the summit back in California last year with the President. And you saw a commitment from this building to want to continue to engage in those military-to-military communications.

So we will engage when we can with our PRC counterparts, but I just don't have any other additional calls to read out today.

Q: Thanks. Totally different subject. General Brown said apparently on his way to Brussels today, I think, that it is inevitable that NATO will send trainers into Ukraine. Is the U.S. currently planning to send American military trainers to Ukraine?

MS. SINGH: Not to my knowledge. We do train — training for Ukrainians, whether it be at Grafenwohr or elsewhere, and we have trained, you know, thousands upon thousands of soldiers as part of our long-term commitment to Ukraine, but I'm not aware of us sending any trainers to Ukraine.

Q: So you're not aware of what General Brown's talking about?

MS. SINGH: I'm not aware. I haven't seen those comments, so yeah. Thanks.

Tara, do you have one more? And then we'll go to the back and wrap up.

Q: Tomorrow, senior airman Roger Fortson's family will bury him. Has the Secretary reached out to the family? And if not, why not? And has he thought about having a wider discussion with black service members about their thoughts about this shooting?

MS. SINGH: Yeah — no, thanks, Tara, for the question. And obviously very heavy subject and something that the Secretary is of course very much aware of. I don't have any calls to read out to you right now. I don't have any engagements for to announce that the Secretary is doing across the force.

But what I can tell you and what the Secretary has committed to from the very beginning is one of his priorities, which is taking care of people. He believes that our forces should be taken care of, and that means if — whether that's seeking help, whether that means talking about it, whether that means, you know, talking to your command about it, he wants to make sure that those resources are available, and they are available.

But I just don't have more to share at this time.

Q: Two questions on Israel.

One, a previous training operation using JLOTS with the Republic of Korea had a much higher throughput. And so just wondering what the bottleneck is specific to this situation?

And then the second, can you speak a little bit to the makeup of the military support that's continuing to flow to Israel, aside from the GBUs and JDAMs that have been held back?

MS. SINGH: I don't have more in terms of more specifics. We've continued to provide, whether it be ammunition or air defenses, things that they need to continue to defend themselves against attacks, whether it be from Iran that you saw last month or from Hamas. But I would direct you to the State Department more when it comes to FMS and FMF, the sales.

In terms of the actual capacity to roll on, roll off of JLOTS, this is going to be incremental. It's going to start slow and it's going to get larger as more aid continues to come in as well. I think the maximum that we'll be able to do is 150 trucks a day. 

You know, you have to think about also the size of the marshaling area, the size of Gaza, and then how many aid truck drivers do you actually have, UN truck drivers you have to distribute that aid. That all plays a factor in how much aid can actually get distributed.

So I don't want to necessarily — I don't want to compare it to other exercises or other times that we've been able to do this. All I can tell you is we're scaling it as fast as we can and we're trying to get humanitarian aid in as quickly as possible, but it is going to scale up over time.

Q: It sounds like the bottleneck is due to mostly partner capabilities in the situation on the ground, not U.S. capability to actually offload and ... 

MS. SINGH: I wouldn't say that there's a bottleneck. Again, we have to make sure that everything operates and is seamless or we are going to see us again go from that crawl, walk, run, it's going to start off small and scale up, and as more aid comes in, you are going to see us, you know, have this be pretty routine and more trucks getting into Gaza.

Q: Yeah, in responding to Oren, you said, I think, something like "we don't support ongoing operations in Rafah." Are you saying that — and maybe I missed this — that the Pentagon doesn't support what Israel's doing in Rafah right now?

MS. SINGH: Let me give you a little more context. So we don't support operations in Rafah without a credible plan to take care of that humanitarian population that's there — that population being over one million people. We so far have not seen a credible plan to protect that large population that's there while the IDF conducts operations in Rafah.

We fully support going after Hamas. We fully support making sure that Hamas is defeated. But again, that is something that — we have not seen a credible plan to protect those civilians down there.


Q: Why aren't U.S. forces partnering with the Israelis to rescue those five American citizens still being held hostage by Hamas?

MS. SINGH: We are not putting boots on the ground in Gaza. We have been very clear with our intent, that we want to see all of the hostages released that are currently being held by Hamas. The President was very clear though there's not going to be no boots on the ground.

We are supporting Israel by providing intelligence to help with the hostage rescue and recovery. That is something we committed to from the beginning of the war, and while you might not have been here in that brief — in this briefing room, we did actually announce that, and that commitment remains. 

We do want to see those hostages released. You're seeing engagements across this administration to see how we can get to securing a hostage deal. We know that's the best way forward to release those hostages and of course to eventually get to a ceasefire.

All right, thank you, everyone.