Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to travel to Israel tomorrow to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli troops move toward the border with Gaza for a possible ground invasion against Hamas.
A senior defense official told reporters that Austin, who is traveling directly from a NATO meeting in Brussels, would also meet with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other senior officials.
Austin "will underscore his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” the official said. “He is looking forward to speaking in-depth with Israeli leaders about their operational planning and their objectives for this conflict in response to Hamas’ brutal, ISIS-style attack.”
Israeli air strikes have now pounded Gaza for the past six days as Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have pledged to wipe out Hamas following a series of surprise attacks that killed more than 1,000 people.
Austin will also discuss current and future U.S. military aid to Israel, the first shipment of which the senior defense official noted arrived earlier this week and included munitions and air defense capabilities, specifically to replenish the Iron Dome system.
“We fully expect to see continuous delivery of U.S. security assistance to Israel in response to their requests,” the official said.
President Biden has said he intends to seek an emergency supplemental package from Congress to help fund U.S. military aid to Israel, along with one he has requested for Ukraine.
Congress, however, remains partially paralyzed as the GOP-led House has not yet elected a new speaker.
The senior defense official said the United States is capable of supplying Israel and Ukraine with munitions simultaneously, despite recent assertions from other DOD leaders that U.S. defense industrial base capabilities are being squeezed in several areas, including 155mm artillery munitions.
Austin, speaking earlier today in Brussels, said the United States can “walk and chew gum at the same time.”
“We will stand by Israel even as we stand by Ukraine,” he said.