US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reiterated Wednesday his country’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself, but expressed misgiving about the mounting Gaza death toll even as the Pentagon okayed new arms transfers to Israel.
Speaking with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Hagel stated that any process to resolve the hostilities in the Gaza Strip must ensure the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups operating in the Palestinian enclave.
Hagel also expressed concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, a statement issued by the Department of Defense read.
The secretary of defense urged Ya’alon to work toward reaching an agreement that would lead to a permanent cessation of hostilities, based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement, the statement said.
Ya’alon thanked Hagel for supporting Israel’s security efforts, particularly with regard to the Iron Dome defense system.
Earlier Wednesday, the Pentagon approved a large transfer of arms to the IDF amid Israel’s ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip.
The weapons will include rocket launchers, mortar rounds, grenades and other arms, some of which are already stockpiled in Israel, under the War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel program.