NATO defense ministers pledge support for Israel

October 12, 2023

NATO pledged support for Israel during the second day of its meeting of defense ministers following Hamas’ attack on Israel Saturday.

Israel “does not stand alone,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday, adding that the 31-nation alliance condemned terrorist attacks in the strongest terms.

In a statement, the NATO members “expressed solidarity with Israel, making clear that it has the right to defend itself with proportionality against these unjustifiable acts of terror” and called for Hamas to “immediately” release all hostages. 

Hamas is holding as many as 150 people hostage in locations across Gaza, according to the Israeli ambassador to the United States. The terrorist organization has threatened to execute a hostage every time an Israeli airstrike hits Gazans in their homes.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Thursday that the families of 97 hostages had been notified that their loved ones were being held captive in Gaza. Further, the families of 222 Israeli soldiers killed since Saturday’s assault have also been notified, according to IDF.

Echoing remarks by President Biden Tuesday, the NATO statement warned, “No nation or organization should seek to take advantage of the situation or to escalate it.”

At the NATO meeting on Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also repeated that warning, and told those assembled that the Department of Defense “stands fully ready to deploy additional assets if necessary” to Israel.

The first round of “key munitions” and other military aid began flowing into Israel Tuesday, Austin said, adding that the U.S. would be “providing more Iron Dome interceptors so that Israel can protected citizens and cities,” referring to Israel’s missile defense system.

On Monday, Biden had ordered the deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Mediterranean.

As NATO defense ministers were meeting in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel, where he gave a joint address alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“Your visit is another tangible example of America’s unequivocal support for Israel,” Netanyahu told Blinken during their joint speech. 

As of Thursday morning, the death toll from the conflict stood at 2,600, including 1,300 Israelis and 1,385 Palestinians.

Twenty-five Americans have also been reported among the dead.

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