Austin and Gallant discuss Gaza aid, Rafah, hostages in latest call

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

File: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant give a joint press conference in Tel Aviv on December 18, 2023. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)
File: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant give a joint press conference in Tel Aviv on December 18, 2023. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant just held another phone call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon says.

The pair “discuss[ed] the ongoing hostage negotiations, humanitarian assistance efforts and Rafah,” according to the US readout.

“Austin reaffirmed his commitment to the unconditional return of all hostages and conveyed the importance of increasing the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza to flood the zone, while ensuring the safety of civilians and aid workers.”

“He also stressed the need for any potential Israeli military operation in Rafah to include a credible plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians and maintain the flow of humanitarian aid.”

“Austin reiterated the United States’ commitment to supporting Israel’s defense,” adds the US readout, which is entirely made up of long-held talking points regarding the war.

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