“Civilian death toll in Gaza too high,” US Defense Secretary tells “Israeli” counterpart


Published: 2024-03-27 11:11

Last Updated: 2024-04-14 09:19

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with the "Israeli" Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. (File Photo)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with the "Israeli" Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. (File Photo)

The United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday to his “Israeli” counterpart Yoav Gallant that the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip is "too high”.

"In Gaza today, the number of civilian casualties is far too high, and the amount of
humanitarian aid is far too low," Austin said at the beginning of his meeting with Yoav Gallant.

He also suggested alternatives for the planned “Israeli” invasion of the southern border city of Rafah.

A senior Pentagon official told reporters after the meeting between Austin and Gallant that the former hoped that negotiations would “soon produce the release of all hostages” - according to AFP.

Austin had acknowledged the need to dismantle Hamas's Rafah battalions but pressed the Israeli occupation’s "moral imperative" and "shared strategic interest" in safeguarding civilians - the official added.

"The secretary expressed our goal to help Israel find an alternative to a full-scale and perhaps premature military operation that could endanger the over one million civilians that are sheltering and Rafah," he said.

A separate “Israeli” delegation was supposed to visit Washington to discuss US concerns over plans to launch an assault on Rafah, where around 1.8 million displaced Palestinians sought shelter.

But the visit was canceled after the United States abstained in a vote on monday on a Security Council resolution that called for a Gaza ceasefire, allowing it to pass.

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