The United States military has moved the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78) carrier battle group closer to Israel, as the besieged country attempts to gain control of an invasion by Palestinian armed forces.
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The Jewish state is facing numerous areas of in-country fighting after a large-scale attack was launched in the country’s south by Palestinian group Hamas over the Yom Kippur religious holiday weekend. Hamas troops have reportedly captured more than 20 towns and military bases, while also kidnapping civilians and military personnel.
More than 700 Israelis have reportedly died and more than 2,150 wounded in the fighting. Adding significantly to the death toll is the reported killing of at least 260 people attending an outdoor music festival near the Gaza-Israeli border.
Both groups are also exchanging aerial bombardments with Hamas firing thousands of unguided rockets and Israel responding with aircraft bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out, announcing that the country is officially at war and calling up reserve troops from the countries’ compulsory military service trained units.
“We are at war and we will win it,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a televised statement
The US announcement moves warships, military aircraft, military, aid and munitions towards Israel, including the Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG60), Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80).
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US government will increase military aid and provide munitions to Israel.
“I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean,” Austin said in a statement.
“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.
“We have also taken steps to augment US Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.
“The US maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required.
“In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions.
“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.”
The goals behind the conflict remain unclear with international commentators speculating Hamas attack is designed to disrupt a potential normalising of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Hamas officials have outlined their motivations as alleged police raids against Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli blockade on Gaza and alleged increasing Palestinian death tolls from Israeli attacks.
Joining the fray, Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group has allegedly also struck out against troops manning the Israeli border while Israeli tourists have reportedly been shot in Egypt.
A Taliban spokesperson has also reportedly encouraged countries to allow the passage of their troops to “conquer Jerusalem”.
The People’s Republic of China, which has recently brokered peace agreements in the Middle East, has spoken out against the violence.
“China is deeply concerned over the current escalation of tensions and violence between Palestine and Israel. We call on relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and immediately end the hostilities to protect civilians and avoid further deterioration of the situation,” a PRC foreign ministry spokesperson said.
“The recurrence of the conflict shows once again that the protracted standstill of the peace process cannot go on.
“The fundamental way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine.
“The international community needs to act with greater urgency, step up input into the Palestine question, facilitate the early resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and find a way to bring about enduring peace. China will continue to work relentlessly with the international community towards that end.”