‘Secretary Austin underscored his steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and to Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism’
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke late Friday with Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant and pleaded with him to defuse tensions with the Palestinians in the West Bank following a deadly military raid.
Austin “encouraged the de-escalation of tensions in the West Bank, following a military raid last week that resulted in civilian deaths,” according to a Pentagon statement. During a military raid on Wednesday in the West Bank city of Nablus, which was targeting members of the Lion’s Den terror cell, 11 Palestinians were killed, and dozens of others were injured in gunfights.
At least six of those killed, according to Palestinian terror groups, were their agents. Whether or not the remaining five were involved in the altercations was not immediately evident.
The Pentagon added that “Secretary Austin underscored his steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and to Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism.” It continued: “The two leaders also discussed regional security issues.” There was no immediate readout of the conversation from Israel.
Austin’s call comes as the Biden administration on Wednesday expressed its “great sorrow” over the number of Palestinians wounded and killed in the operation. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the administration “is extremely concerned by the levels of violence in Israel and the West Bank.”
“We are deeply concerned that the impact of today’s raid could set back efforts aimed at restoring calm for both Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.