US and Israeli defense chiefs to meet Tuesday as tensions rise over Gaza

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The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet with Israel’s minister of defense and discuss ways to address the Hamas threat other than conducting a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

FILE - Israel Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, right, speaks during a joint statement with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Dec. 18, 2023. The Pentagon says Austin will meet with Gallant on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, and discuss ways to address the Hamas threat other than conducting a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel’s offensive has killed over 32,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, and driven a third of Gaza’s population to the brink of starvation. It was launched in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which killed some 1,200 people. The dispute signals an erosion in the U.S.-Israel relationship that has been under a microscope for months as the military assault on Hamas continues, escalating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

 

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