Austin and Gallant
Austin and GallantElad Malka

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke on Monday with Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant by phone to receive updates on Israel's operations to restore security following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.

“Secretary Austin underscored the importance of Israel's role in facilitating the humanitarian convoys Oct. 21-22 into Gaza and emphasized the importance of civilian protection,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder in a statement after the call.

“The two leaders also discussed the United States' continued provision of security assistance and reviewed actions the Department of Defense is taking to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,” the statement added.

The conversation comes a day after Austin discussed the impending Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip during an interview with ABC News.

"The first thing that everyone should know, and I think everybody does know, is that urban combat is extremely difficult. It's -- it goes at a slow pace," Austin said when asked what lessons he learned from the offensive he led against ISIS in Iraq would apply in Gaza.

"This may be a bit more difficult because of the underground network of tunnels that the -- that Hamas has constructed over time, and the fact that they have had a long time to prepare for a fight. So I think you'll see a fight that's characterized by a lot of IEDs, a lot of booby traps, and just a really grinding activity going forward," he explained.

On Monday, Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio) reported that the US has informed Israel that it intends to send additional American forces to the Middle East, ahead of the expected ground incursion in Gaza, due to concerns that Iranian attacks against US forces in the area will increase.

According to assessments, Israel has agreed to delay the ground incursion until additional US forces are sent.