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Pentagon chief says civilian death toll in Gaza ‘extremely high’, a day after US abstained from key UN vote

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday expressed concern to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant, saying the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip is “very high”, Al-Jazeera reported. This development comes after the United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

On Monday, despite the US abstaining from the ceasefire vote, the UN Security Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging the urgent need to stop the violence in Gaza. According to media reports, more than 32,000 Palestinians have lost their lives in the conflict since Israel began its military offensive in early October.

During a meeting with Gallant in Washington DC, Austin said humanitarian aid reaching Gaza is “very low”, stressing that urgent action is needed to deal with the unfolding catastrophe.

“Gaza is facing a humanitarian crisis and the situation is worsening,” the Pentagon chief said, Al-Jazeera reported. “An immediate increase in aid is necessary to prevent famine. Our efforts to establish a temporary humanitarian corridor by sea will provide some relief, but it is essential to expand aid delivery by land.”

Israel’s blockade of vital humanitarian aid to Gaza has worsened dire conditions, raising fears of widespread famine.

Read | Gaza hospitals filled with hungry children due to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s military offensive

The US decision to abstain from the UN vote rather than exercise its veto power drew attention to President Joe Biden’s apparent “dissatisfaction” with Israeli leadership, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al-Jazeera reported. Have attracted.

Earlier, Netanyahu had criticized the Biden administration for not opposing the proposal and rejected a planned visit of an Israeli government delegation to the US.

Reports from American and Israeli media outlets suggest that Gallant’s visit to Washington is aimed at accelerating arms shipments to Israel.

On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Minister signaled his intention to discuss increasing US-Israel cooperation to maintain Israel’s military superiority and capabilities during his meeting with Austin.

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