US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin – the official who organized the American campaign against ISIS – told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday that the massacres and atrocities perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli civilians last weekend make it clear the group has become “worse than ISIS. Austin arrived in Israel within hours of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s departure.
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with Austin on Friday at the Defense Ministry and IDF headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.
On Saturday, Austin met with Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at the IDF’s underground command center.
Hamas fired a long-range rocket – likely an Ayyash-250 at northern Israel on Saturday, the farthest it has shot a rocket since launching its war last week. The missile was intercepted by the David’s Sling missile defense system.
“I’m very happy to see you today. I’m very appreciative of the strong stance of the President, you, Secretary Blinken, the American people and the American government,” Netanyahu told Austin at the start of their meeting on Friday.
“Hamas is ISIS, and I think what you said and in many ways the President has said, in many ways Hamas is worse than ISIS. And just as the entire civilized world united to fight ISIS, the united civilized world has to unite to help us fight Hamas. I know that you stand with us, and I appreciate it mightily,” the prime minister added.
“We’re with you, Mr. Prime Minister. As the President said, we have your back. And it’s been an awful week. Disgusting acts by this terrorist group. And as you know, I was the guy that initially put the ISIS campaign together.
“I know a lot about ISIS, and this is worse than what I saw with ISIS. We do stand with you, Mr. Prime Minister,” Austin affirmed.
Israeli officials attending Friday’s meeting included Gallant, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi and the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil.
The American officials who were present included the Defense Secretary’s Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen, his Senior Military Assistant Gen. Ronald P. Clark and Acting US Ambassador to Israel Stephanie L. Hallett.