Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will meet his Israeli counterpart to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said today.

Yoav Gallant will meet with Austin tomorrow regarding security developments. The Israeli defense minister last visited the Pentagon in late March. 

Ryder said the two men, who have been in weekly contact since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, will talk about Israeli operations in Gaza, humanitarian efforts in the region, and tension with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“No doubt there will be discussions about the situation in Lebanon,” Ryder said. “But we’ll have much more to say, you know, post meeting. So, more to come.” 

Ryder also said the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group has left the U.S. Central Command’s area of operations and will be replaced by the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.  

The Eisenhower group is in the U.S. European Command’s area of operations and will remain there for a short while before continuing to its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia. It provided security in the Centcom region for seven months. The sailors have provided security for the Red Sea and Middle East and protected the free flow of commerce through the vital, oceanic crossroads, Ryder said.  

“During its deployment, the Ike CSG protected ships transiting the Red Sea, Bab el-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden, rescued innocent mariners against the unlawful attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis, and helped to deter further aggression,” Ryder said in a written statement released yesterday. 

There will be a gap between the deployment of the two carrier strike groups, but the United States has adequate military capabilities in the region. “As you know, we have destroyers in both the Centcom and Eucom areas of operation that have been very active in providing those kinds of defenses,” he said.  

The United States also has aircraft and intelligence, as well as surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the region. “We will continue to work very closely with our international allies and partners toward … safeguarding the flow of commerce and safety of mariners in the Red Sea, and Centcom region,” he said.

The general said there’s a pause for routine maintenance today in operation of the temporary pier contracted in Gaza to feed Palestinians trapped by the fighting. Normal operations will resume tomorrow. Over the weekend, the Defense Department pier delivered about 1,380 metric tons of aid to the shore of Gaza. “That also includes movement of 720 metric tons … of aid on Sunday, which is the largest … single-day delivery of aid to date,” he said.

The total since May 17 is more than 6,200 metric tons of aid delivered to the marshaling area for onward delivery, he said.

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