The Pentagon will send aircraft and its largest aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean in a show of force to support Israel in its war against Hamas terrorists, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement Sunday.
The Pentagon will begin transferring an unspecified amount of security assistance to Israel, including ammunition, Sunday that is expected to reach the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in “the coming days,” Austin said in the statement. Meanwhile, Austin, at the direction of President Joe Biden, has ordered the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford along with its strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean and moved to enhance fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.
“We have also taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region,” Austin said. “The U.S. maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required,” Austin said.
The Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest and greatest aircraft carrier and was already deployed to the Mediterranean when Israel’s parliament formally approved a war declaration on Hamas attackers Sunday morning. Israel has not gone to war since 1973.
Movement of U.S. forces nearer to Israel will “strengthen Department of Defense posture in the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts,” Austin said. The decision came after detailed discussions with the president.
“Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the materiel support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people. My team and I will continue to be in close contact with our Israeli counterparts to ensure they have what they need to protect their citizens and defend themselves against these heinous terrorist attacks,” Austin said.
“My thoughts continue to be with the people of Israel and the many families who have lost loved ones as a result of the abhorrent terrorist attack by Hamas.
— USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) (@Warship_78) August 26, 2023
Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel early Saturday, brutally killing and taking hostage Israeli civilians while launching more than 2,200 rockets in just the first hours of the attack, the NYT reported. At least 250 Israelis have died and thousands are wounded, and the death toll is expected to rise.
The IDF is working to regain control of communities and military sites still occupied by Hamas, an IDF spokesperson said Saturday evening local time and has begun carrying out retaliatory strikes on Hamas positions in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged a “long and difficult war” against Hamas and its supporters.
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