Israel-Hamas war tops agenda at NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels

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x Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Kristina Harazim with AP
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The escalating violence between Israel and Hamas has pushed the war to the top of the agenda as NATO allies meet in Brussels. The ministers will also discuss support for Ukraine's defence against Russian aggression and NATO's missions and operations in Kosovo and Iraq.

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United States Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin is meeting with NATO defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday, where the Israel-Hamas war has been relegated to the top of the agenda.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the ministers would be briefed about ''the horrendous terrorist attacks against Israel'' by Hamas on Saturday.

Addressing Stolenberg, Austin said ''I know you share our outrage at the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas here recently and also our determination to support Israel's right to defend itself.'' 

The US President Joe Biden has pledged unwavering support for Israel and said Washington would provide additional military assistance to Israel which has declared war on the militant group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ''crush and destroy'' Hamas.

“Every Hamas member is a dead man,” he said.

At least 1,200 Israelis and 1,100 Palestinians have been killed since the group launched the unprecedented and unexpected attack.

Israeli forces have responded with ongoing air strikes in the Gaza Strip where 2.3 million people live.

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, centre, attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in defence ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, centre, attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in defence ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, ThursdayVirginia Mayo/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Cities and towns have been reduced to rubble, and at least 120,000 Gazans have been internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

Israel has imposed a total blockade of the Hamas-governed area, banning admission of food, fuel and electricity.

The Gaza Power Authority said the area's only power station had stopped functioning because it had run out of fuel. 

Israel has mobilised around 360,000 reservists who are massing at the Gaza border, leading to speculation that Israel will soon launch a land offensive.

Additional sources • Euronews

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