US moves carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel amid Hamas attack

The US has ordered a carrier strike group, led by the USS Gerald R. Ford, to sail to the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel, which is facing a multi-front attack from the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The move is seen as a show of force and support for Israel, which has declared war on Hamas after an unprecedented surprise attack that began on Saturday.

US Defense Secretary orders carrier strike group to Eastern Mediterranean

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday that he has directed several steps to strengthen the US posture in the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts, following detailed discussions with President Joe Biden. He said he has ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to help Israel after the attack by Hamas that has left more than 1,000 dead on both sides. Americans were reported to be among those killed and missing.

The Ford carrier strike group includes the USS Gerald R. Ford, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, accompanied by guided missile destroyers and guided missile cruisers. The Norfolk, Virginia-based carrier was already in the Mediterranean, conducting naval exercises with Italy in the Ionian Sea. It is the US’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier and this is its first full deployment.

Austin also announced steps to augment US Air Force fighter aircraft squadrons in the region. US aircraft are going into bases in the Middle East where they will be available for operations against Iran and other militant groups aligned against Israel, officials say. The munitions the US will be sending over are being airlifted.

US moves carrier strike group

US expresses support for Israel and condemns Hamas attack

Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday “to express support for the people of Israel and to receive updates on Israel’s operation to restore security and safety from Hamas’ terrorist attack,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. Gallant and Austin will “remain in close contact in the days and weeks ahead,” Ryder added.

The announcement came shortly after the White House confirmed that President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke again Sunday morning. The two leaders discussed Hamas’ taking of Israeli hostages, with Biden assuring Netanyahu that US assistance for the Israel Defense Forces was on its way to Israel, with more to follow over the coming days.

“The President emphasized that there is no justification whatsoever for terrorism, and all countries must stand united in the face of such brutal atrocities,” the White House readout of the call said. “President Biden updated the Prime Minister on the intensive diplomatic engagement undertaken by the United States over the last 24 hours in support of Israel,” the readout added.

Israel-Hamas conflict escalates as death toll rises

The US move comes as the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalates, with Israeli airstrikes pounding Gaza and Hamas fighters battling Israeli soldiers in the streets of southern Israel. The fighting erupted on Saturday, when Hamas launched an unprecedented surprise attack from Gaza, breaching the border fence and infiltrating into Israeli territory. Hamas claimed to have killed or captured hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians, while also firing rockets at Tel Aviv and other cities.

Israel has declared war on Hamas and vowed to destroy its military infrastructure and leadership. Prime Minister Netanyahu has predicted a “long and difficult war,” and a military spokesperson hinted that the country may launch a ground invasion into Gaza. Israel has also cut off power and water supplies to Gaza, making it difficult for medical care and humanitarian aid to reach the besieged territory.

The death toll from the conflict has surpassed 1,000, with more than 700 Israelis and more than 400 Palestinians killed, according to official sources. The numbers are expected to rise as rescue workers search for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings. The UN has called for an immediate ceasefire and urged both sides to respect international humanitarian law.

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