Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday a U.S. carrier strike group has moved closer to Israel in response to the onslaught of attacks from Palestinian militant group Hamas that have killed hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians, including reports that some of those who died were U.S. citizens.
The Ford carrier strike group will be moved closer to the Eastern Mediterranean to “bolster regional deterrence efforts,” in the wake of Palestinian militant group Hamas’s multifaceted attacks on Israel, Austin said.
The Ford carrier strike group includes the USS Gerald R. Ford, the U.S. Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier, along with multiple missile cruisers and missile destroyers.
Austin said the Department of Defense is also taking steps to bolster the U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft squadrons in the region, with the U.S. maintaining other ready forces around the globe to reinforce those in the Eastern Mediterranean as needed.
“Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the material support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the United States’s ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people,” Austin said.
Hamas launched the largest attack on Israel in decades early Saturday, sending forces into multiple Israeli towns by land, sea and air, along with a barrage of rocket strikes in a surprise offensive. More than 1,000 people were killed, and thousands of others were injured.
The White House said Sunday that President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, informing him “additional assistance” was on its way to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Biden said more assistance would also be arriving in the coming days.
Austin echoed that promise Sunday, emphasizing the U.S. government plans to “rapidly” provide IDF forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions.
Biden was quick to offer his unwavering support to Israel in the hours following the attacks, telling Netanyahu the U.S. is prepared to offer “all appropriate means of support” to Israel. The country officially declared war and has escalated retaliatory attacks against Palestinians.