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US & Israeli defence chiefs meet to discuss Gaza plans as tensions between allies spike

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WASHINGTON: US defence leaders met with Israel’s minister of defence on Tuesday as the US warned against a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, but rising tensions between the two allies put any progress in question.
In remarks at the start of the Pentagon meeting, defence secretary Lloyd Austin said they would discuss alternative ways to target Hamas in Rafah, and he described civilian casualties in Gaza as “far too high” and aid deliveries as “far too low.” But he also repeated the belief that Israel has the right to defend itself and the US would always be there to help.
Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, meanwhile, emphasised the ongoing threats to Israel, and said the meeting would address ways to destroy Hamas and get the Israeli hostages released. Austin made no mention of threats to limit or condition future military aid to Israel on humanitarian gains, a growing sentiment among members of Congress. And Gallant only said that the meeting would include discussions about the important cooperation between the two countries to “ensure Israel’s military edge and capabilities.”
The meeting, which also included chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comes as tensions have spiked between the US and Israel, stemming from the widespread global frustration over the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza and political discord surrounding efforts to achieve a cease-fire.
On Monday, Israeli PM Netanyahu cancelled a high-level visit to Washington this week in protest over the UNSC decision to call for an immediate ceasefire. The US abstained, deciding not to use veto power, and the resolution passed 14-0. Israel says it cannot defeat Hamas without going into Rafah.

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