The US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, has given orders for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to be deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean. This decision is part of Washington’s efforts to increase pressure on Tehran, Lebanese Hezbollah, and other pro-Palestinian regional groups, in an attempt to prevent their involvement in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Speaking on Saturday night, Austin announced that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which includes nine aircraft squadrons, two guided-missile destroyers, and a guided-missile cruiser, will soon join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier group in the region. The aim is to deter any hostile actions against Israel or any attempts to escalate the conflict following Hamas’s attack on Israel.
Austin emphasized that the deployment of additional military forces demonstrates the United States’ strong commitment to Israel’s security. It also serves as a clear message that the US will not tolerate any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate the conflict in the region.
In a phone call with Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, earlier in the day, Austin provided updates on Washington’s efforts to support the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This includes the continued supply of air defense capabilities and munitions. However, he also emphasized the importance of adhering to the law of war, particularly when it comes to civilian protection, and addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
It is worth noting that the US administration has ruled out sending military personnel into Gaza as part of any Israeli ground invasion or hostage rescue mission. Instead, the US is focusing on providing intelligence and operation planning support to the IDF.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated last Saturday when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel. The attack resulted in the deaths of 1,300 Israeli civilians and soldiers and the capture of at least 120 hostages, including foreigners. In response, Israel launched massive air strikes on Gaza, leading to the deaths of over 2,200 Palestinians and the displacement of more than 430,000 people in the densely-populated territory.
Israel has now ordered approximately 1.1 million residents from the northern Gaza area to evacuate in anticipation of a significant ground operation. The operation is expected to involve a joint and coordinated attack from the air, sea, and land.
It is important to note that Washington’s decision to deploy additional military forces to the Eastern Mediterranean is aimed at deterring hostile actions and preventing the conflict from further escalating. The US remains committed to Israel’s security while also recognizing the need to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and uphold the law of war, particularly regarding civilian protection. As tensions persist in the region, the international community will closely monitor developments and support efforts to reach a peaceful resolution.