Gantz traveling to US this week to meet Pentagon chief

i24NEWS

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz during a ceremony at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on April 11, 2021.
Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz during a ceremony at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on April 11, 2021.

Defense minister to meet with bereaved families and other members of the Jewish community

Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz will travel to the United States this week to meet with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin, his office announced on Sunday.

Gantz will take off on Wednesday and is expected to meet the Pentagon chief the next morning in Washington. His office did not give details of the nature of the meeting.

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The meeting comes as tensions in Jerusalem are the worst they have been in a year, following the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Al Jazeera's reporter was shot dead last week while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen during a military operation in the city of Jenin, in the West Bank. Violence marred her funeral on Friday, further catalyzing tensions.

After his meeting with Austin, Gantz will meet with bereaved families and other members of the Jewish community in New York and Miami.

The last meeting between Gantz and Austin took place at the Pentagon in December and the two men discussed bilateral ties, the Iranian threat and Israel's qualitative military advantage in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to the family of the Al Jazeera journalist on Sunday, as Israel faces a wave of international criticism over police behavior at her funeral.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of "executing" Abu Akleh. Israeli officials, including Gantz, first said it was likely Palestinian gunmen mistakenly shot the journalist, before adding that errant Israeli sniper fire may also have caused her death.

Israel insists it cannot definitively determine who shot her without examining the bullet removed from her head. The Jewish state has asked for help from the United States to persuade the Palestinian Authority to cooperate.

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