Pentagon says it will support Israel after Netanyahu declares war

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. stands squarely by Israel and will ensure it “has what it needs to defend itself” after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war against Palestinian militants that launched a surprise attack on his country.

Austin said in a statement he was “closely monitoring developments in Israel” and extended his condolences to families of the victims who lost their lives in the Saturday attack.

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering,” Austin said. “Over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.”

The U.S. is one of Israel’s staunchest allies and has provided around $3.8 billion a year to the country.

Netanyahu declared war on Saturday against Palestinian militant groups after Hamas launched a surprise, multi-frontal attack inside Israel.

Militants launched more than 2,000 missiles and stormed Israel from multiple directions after infiltrating the border.

The most recent death toll has at least 250 Israeli deaths in the country, according to The Times of Israel and local media reports.

The U.S. has condemned the recent violence and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has discussed the situation with his counterpart.

The latest clashes come after decades of violence between Palestine and Israel, which has only picked up in recent months following more controversial policies under Netanyahu’s far-right government against Palestinian communities.

Updated 4:02 p.m.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Department of Defense Hamas Hamas Israel Israel-Palestne war Jake Sullivan Lloyd Austin palestine