The Pentagon has deployed 2,000 marines and sailors to the waters off Israel’s coast as a show of force in the region, according to unnamed US officials cited by CNN. This move comes amidst ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants, which has resulted in a high death toll over the past month.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a rapid response force, is leading this deployment and is heading towards Israel onboard the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship previously stationed in the Gulf of Oman. While officials have not disclosed the unit’s exact destination, they did not rule out the possibility of it joining two US carrier strike groups stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Reports suggest that these naval deployments are intended to send a message of deterrence to Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, with some US warships having recently patrolled waters near Iran. The presence of these US forces is seen as a way to maintain stability in the region and prevent further escalation of the conflict.
In addition to the naval deployment, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered another 2,000 troops to prepare for a potential medical and logistical support mission in Israel. However, Pentagon officials emphasized that this order does not guarantee direct US involvement in the conflict with Hamas, the militant group based in the Gaza Strip. The White House aims to avoid the impression that American troops could become embroiled in a full-fledged war. The troops are expected to provide advising and medical support and will not serve in combat roles.
Currently, the 2,000 soldiers are stationed across the Middle East and Europe but have been put on notice to deploy within 24 hours if needed. The goal of this deployment is to forestall a wider regional war and maintain stability in the area. However, some US lawmakers are pushing for direct military action in the Middle East. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has stated that if there is an escalation of the war against Israel, he would place the blame on Iran and suggest taking action against them.
The recent rocket and ground assault launched by Palestinian militants from Gaza on Israeli cities has resulted in weeks of intense fighting. The Israel Defense Forces have responded with retaliatory airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. According to local authorities, around 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, while Palestinian officials report over 2,800 fatalities in Gaza.
The situation remains highly tense, with both sides grappling to find a resolution to the conflict. The deployment of US forces aims to maintain stability in the region and deter further aggression, while also ensuring the safety and security of Israel. The international community continues to closely monitor the situation and calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict to prevent further loss of life.