The US is moving one of its carrier strike groups to the coastal waters of Israel.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Austin said the US will also provide Israel more “equipment and resources, including munitions.”
The US is deploying an aircraft carrier and other vessels capable of firing guided missiles off the coast of Israel, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Sunday, as part of a show of strength in the wake of a shock attack by Hamas that killed more than 600 people.
“I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean,” Austin said in a statement, adding that the United States was also taking steps to build up its squadron of fighter jets in the region.
“In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions,” Austin said. The first such assistance will arrive in the country in the coming days, he said.
Israel, the top recipient of US military aid, began heavily bombarding alleged Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday after the Palestinian militant group launched a raid in southern Israel and killed hundreds of people, mostly civilians. According to Gaza health authorities, more than 300 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory so far in retaliatory strikes.
On Sunday, the Israeli government formally declared war on Hamas with a stated goal of seizing power over the entire Gaza Strip, which is home to roughly 2 million people. As Insider reported Saturday, an extended war could further increase demand for the same NATO-standard artillery shells used by Ukraine. The US has a stockpile of that ammunition in Israel.
The redirecting of US firepower to the eastern Mediterranean includes the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which is the Navy’s most advanced carrier, the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, and the guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt.
US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the military has “taken steps to augment” F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons that are already in the area. The US “maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this posture if required,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
An IDF spokesperson said on Sunday that Israel is working closely with CENTCOM, and top military leadership is in close communication.
“Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the material support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people,” Austin said on Sunday. “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.”