The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and destroyers Thomas Hudner, Ramage and McFaul conduct a drill while underway in the Atlantic Ocean

US Deploys Naval Group Near Israel After Hamas Attack

Sunday, 10/08/2023

As the death toll from Hamas attack on Israel surpassed 700, the US said it will send multiple warships and aircraft closer to Israel as a show of support.

Hamas fighters rampaged through Israeli towns as the country suffered its bloodiest day in decades on Saturday. Israel battered Gaza with airstrikes on Sunday, inflicting many casualties. Many voiced concern that the spiraling violence can lead to a major new war in the Middle East.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the military deployment on Saturday, adding that the US will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions, and that its security assistance will begin moving on Sunday and arriving in the coming days.

“I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. This includes the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), as well as the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). 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.

“Over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism,” he said Sunday.

General Michael Kurilla, the Commander of the US Central Command said in a statement, "USCENTCOM stands firmly with our Israeli and regional partners to address the risks of any party seeking to expand the conflict."

US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that additional assistance for the Israeli Defense Forces was on its way and more would follow in the coming days, the White House said after their call.

"It wouldn't be a surprise that part of the motivation may have been to disrupt efforts to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together, along with other countries that may be interested in normalizing relations with Israel," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN earlier on Sunday.

Blinken also said that there was not yet any evidence seen by the United States of Iran being behind the attack, but he noted the long-standing ties between Iran and Hamas. Blinken's statement contradicts years of evidence which has proven that Iran pays Hamas around $100m annually, as was announced in 2018 by the then Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, under the Donald Trump administration.

Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh and Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a meeting in Tehran

In spite of evidence to suggest the Saturday morning attack which began with a barrage of thousands of rockets fired into Israel's southern region, followed by a land, sea and air invasion of troops, was carefully planned, Blinken tried to suggest the attacks could have been more of an operation orchestrated by militants in Gaza and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

US Deputy National Security adviser Jon Finer told Fox News Sunday that Saudi-Israel normalization efforts should continue despite the latest attack. "We think it would be in both countries' interests to continue to pursue this possibility," he said.

The attack by Hamas launched at dawn on Saturday is the biggest and deadliest incursion into Israel since Egypt and Syria launched a sudden assault in an effort to reclaim lost territory in the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.

With reporting by Reuters

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