Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met this afternoon (Monday) with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.

In remarks to the press before the meeting, Netanyahu told Austin: "We're fighting a war of civilization against barbarism."

"When we spoke, I expressed again our commitment-Israel's commitment, to achieve total victory against Hamas. Ans we think that this is not only our war, but in many ways your war, because you are leading the forces of civilization in the world," he said.

The Prime Minister continued: "This is a battle against the Iranian axis of terror which is now threatening to close the maritime Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. This threatens the freedom of navigation of the entire world. I appreciate the fact that you are taking action to open that strait. It's not only our interest, it's the interest, I think, of the entire civilized community."

Secretary Austin said that America's commitment to Israel "is unshakeable."

"I know that Israel is a small, tight-knit country, and I know that all Israelis were touched by the vast evil committed by Hamas," he said. "I'm here to mourn with you for the innocent souls taken from you on October 7. I'm also here to stand alongside the families of those still missing in Gaza, including US citizens."

The Secretary described the task force the US is leading in the Red Sea to protect freedom of navigation from Iran and its Houthi proxies, and demanded an end to "Iran's support for Houthi attacks on commercial vessels."

Also participating in the meeting on the Israeli side were Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and the Prime Minister's Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil.

For the American side the meeting was attended by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Secretary Austin's Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen and Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Israel Stephanie Hallett.

An expanded meeting with the members of the War Cabinet will be held after the current meeting.

Earlier, Secretary Austin concluded a bilateral meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

At the meeting, which was held in Gallant's office at the MOD Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Secretary Austin was joined by the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Charles Brown.

On the Israeli side, Minister Gallant was joined by the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Director General of the MoD, Head of the IDF's Operations Directorate, Head of the IDI, Head of COGAT, and additional senior officials in the defense establishment.

Austin landed in Israel on Monday morning after leaving for a Mideast trip Saturday night.

“I’m headed to Israel, Bahrain, and Qatar to underscore US commitments to strengthening regional security and stability, and working with partners and allies to advance defense capabilities,” he wrote on X at the time.