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Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, is set to meet with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to request more US weaponry and equipment to support Israel’s war efforts in Gaza. The request comes at a time when US weapons sales to Israel are under scrutiny and criticism by lawmakers and critics of President Joe Biden’s support for Israel. Gallant’s meeting with Austin follows talks with national security officials where weapons sales were also discussed. However, tensions have risen between the US and Israel after the US did not veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages in Gaza, leading to the cancellation of planned meetings between the two sides.

Despite the strained relationship, Israeli defense officials are focused on pushing for faster approval and progress on weapons transfers from the US. Gallant has indicated plans to request additional weaponry and equipment from the US, including precision-guided munitions and fighter jets. The US has stated that there is scrutiny but no policy decision to deny additional weapons to Israel. The Defense Secretary has consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, despite concerns that rapid approval of large weapons sales could lead to Israel stockpiling equipment for potential conflicts with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

While the Biden administration has been urging Israel to protect civilians in Gaza and refrain from a major military incursion into Rafah, weapons sales from the US have continued. Since Hamas’ attack on Israel in October, the US has made over 100 foreign military sales to Israel, with most falling below the dollar amount that requires congressional notification. However, the sale of more fighter jets to Israel will likely spark intense debate and scrutiny by Congress. Democratic lawmakers have called for a suspension of military assistance to Israel unless credible assurances of compliance with international humanitarian law are provided, a demand that the Biden administration is evaluating.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has resulted in significant casualties, with calls for a ceasefire and protection of civilians increasing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a possible war in northern Israel with Lebanon if a decisive victory is not achieved in Gaza. The Biden administration has been pressuring Israel to explore alternatives to a major ground operation in Rafah to prevent civilian casualties. The US has received assurances from Israel regarding compliance with international humanitarian law, but assessments of Israel’s conduct are ongoing. The continued supply of weapons to Israel amidst the conflict remains a point of contention among lawmakers and critics of US support for Israel.

Gallant’s meeting with Austin will address the growing need for additional weaponry and equipment to support Israel’s operations in Gaza. The Biden administration’s stance on supporting Israel’s right to defend itself remains firm, despite concerns of potential escalations in the conflict. The ongoing conflict in Gaza, the possible war with Lebanon, and the need to protect civilians are all critical issues that will be discussed during the meeting. The relationship between the US and Israel, and the handling of weapons sales amidst the conflict, will be closely monitored by lawmakers and critics advocating for the protection of civilians and compliance with international humanitarian law. Ongoing assessments of Israel’s conduct and compliance will continue to influence the decision-making process regarding military assistance and weapons sales to Israel.

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