Tuesday, May 21, 2024
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, center right, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center left, met in Tel Aviv on Monday.
Credit…Phil Stewart/Reuters

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told top Israeli leaders on Monday that protecting civilians was a “strategic imperative” for their ground and air campaign in Gaza, as pressure grows on Israel to scale back the war.

Mr. Austin, making his second visit to Israel since the deadly Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and other top officials to discuss in detail how Israeli forces will transition to the next phase of the war.

The Biden administration envisions that the next phase would involve smaller groups of elite forces that would move in and out of population centers in Gaza, conducting more precise, intelligence-driven missions to find and kill Hamas leaders, rescue hostages and destroy tunnels.

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