Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant will hold video talks Thursday with his NATO counterparts, after the surprise Hamas attack on his country, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
“Tomorrow, we will also be briefed by the Israeli defence minister Gallant on the situation in Israel,” Stoltenberg told journalists Wednesday at a two-day meeting of ministers in Brussels.
“Allies condemned the horrific terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Israel over the weekend, and we are looking forward to the briefing from the defence minister.”
The death toll from five days of ferocious fighting between Hamas and Israel rose sharply overnight as Israel kept up its bombardment of Gaza after recovering the dead from the last communities near the border where Palestinian militants had been holed up.
In Israel, deaths from Saturday’s shock cross-border assault by Hamas militants rose to 1,200, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history, while Gaza officials reported more than 900 people killed as Israel pounded the territory with air strikes.
The address from Gallant comes amid concern from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky that the crisis in Israel could distract key backer the United States from the conflict in his country.
Zelensky visited NATO headquarters on Wednesday to urge further weapons supplies to support Kyiv’s counter-offensive and air defences to protect against an expected winter onslaught by Russia.
President Joe Biden ordered US ships and warplanes to move closer to Israel in a show of support on Sunday, while also sending fresh military aid.