The US Secretary of Defense called on Israel to stop settler violence in the West Bank

American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Photo: MIA

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant, asking him to stop the violence perpetrated by settlers in the occupied West Bank.

According to a Pentagon statement, Austin called Gallant to learn about Israel's campaign to ensure that Hamas "can no longer use Gaza to threaten Israel's security." Austin emphasized his support for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism following the October 7 attack by the Palestinian group.

Austin also called for "increased efforts to protect civilians in Gaza, increase the delivery of humanitarian aid and prevent extremist settler violence in the West Bank."

At least 17.177 Palestinians have been killed and more than 46.000 injured in the fierce air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip since October 7.

Austin expressed concern over deadly cross-border exchanges between the Israeli military and Lebanon's Hezbollah during the week.

The statement also states that he condemns the escalation of Houthi aggression in the Red Sea, which threatens freedom of navigation and free trade.

Following the Houthi attack on the US warship in the Gulf of Aden, the US Defense Secretary also spoke with Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman Al Saud regarding the Houthi threat to "freedom of navigation in the Red Sea".

The Pentagon says Austin conveyed his desire to work with all nations that share a common interest in maintaining the principle of freedom of navigation and ensuring safe passage for global shipping.

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