The world’s largest aircraft carrier and some of the best US fighter jets have been dispatched to help Israel after being caught off guard by a massive attack by Hamas over the weekend.
The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group is being dispatched by the US Navy to the Eastern Mediterranean in response to the intensifying conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants from Hamas. The announcement was made by the US Central Command (CENTCOM).
A statement published by CENTCOM read, “The United States has begun moving USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. This includes the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), as well as the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80).”
The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, said that the deployment was part of several measures to bolster American military assets in the region. “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,” he said in a statement.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is widely regarded as the United States’ most technologically advanced aircraft carrier. It is the world’s largest ship as it boasts impressive dimensions, measuring approximately 1,092 feet (333 meters) in length, with a beam of 256 feet (78 meters) at its flight deck and a height of 250 feet (76 meters).
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group has been in the Mediterranean Sea since June, when the US decided to resume a constant presence in the region. This is the first full deployment of the carrier group, which also conducted military drills with Italy earlier this month.
With its approximately 5,000 sailors and deck of warplanes, the USS Gerald R. Ford is being deployed in a show of force. The carrier group would be prepared to respond to anything, including possibly preventing more weapons from reaching Hamas as well as conducting surveillance of the seas.
The massive deployment may seem disproportionate, given that the Hamas do not have the resources to sustain the conflict it began by crossing over into Israel. However, the US has projected this as a measure required to prevent any regional escalation of the conflict.
In addition to the Gerard R. Ford carrier, the US is augmenting Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region. EurAsian Times had reported previously on the deployment of F-16s, F-22s, as well as the F-35s by the US CENTCOM in the wake of threats posed by Russia and Iran in the region in recent months.
“The United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions,” US Defense Secretary Austin said. “The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days.”
As reports surfaced on social media after the US announced the deployment of its carrier strike group, Hamas retorted, saying that the presence of the carrier would not make a difference to their operations against Israel. Besides Hamas, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group also launched fires at Israel, triggering alarms of a regional conflict.
Some unconfirmed reports on social media stated that Hamas has warned against the deployment and noted that at around 350 kilometers from Lebanon, the carrier group may be within the range of anti-ship missiles fired by Hezbollah.
Day 3 Of The Conflict: What’s Happening In Israel?
On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, casting doubt on the efficacy of the country’s vaunted intelligence network. The militants breached the borders and infiltrated Israeli territory, burning tanks along the border area and carrying out savage attacks on civilians on the streets.
The militants also took several civilians hostage and took them over to Gaza, including civilians from other countries. The attack was followed by a declaration of war by Israel for the first time in over 50 years, leading to the country dispatching its warplanes to bomb the besieged Gaza Strip, which remains under a blockade imposed by Tel Aviv.
A gun battle in southern Israel between the two sides also began shortly after.
Overnight, “more than 500 strategic targets” were hit in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli army. On the social media site X, it was reported that fighter jets, helicopters, and artillery units participated in the attacks on Islamic Jihad and Hamas targets.
“The skies over Gaza are full of Israeli fighter jets and drones. Some towns in the Gaza Strip, in particular Beit Hanoon [known as Erez to Israelis], has seen non-stop bombardment for more than an hour,” according to an Al Jazeera reporter who is reporting live from the Gaza City.
🚨 JUST IN: AIRSTRIKE AFTERMATH
This is the aftermath of the airstrikes on Sheykh Ahmad Yasin mosque in Al Shati, west of Gaza – Source: Aleph
About 74,000 Palestinians were displaced to 64 schools and shelters in the Gaza Strip.
Source: Al Jazeera pic.twitter.com/W4aCuUVhdk
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 9, 2023
According to Israel’s military, over 100,000 reserve soldiers have been mobilized close to Gaza. It also noted that Israeli soldiers and Hamas are still engaged in fierce combat in at least three locations in southern Israel. Combat was ongoing between the two sides, seven to eight locations outside the Gaza Strip.
“It’s taking more time than we expected to get things back into a defensive security posture,” Richard Hecht told a briefing with journalists. Less than two days after the attack was launched, over 1100 people have died in the conflict. This is the fifth conflict between the two sides in just 15 years.
Israel has received overwhelming support from international partners who termed the launch of operations as a “terrorist attack.” However, several pro-Palestinian netizens and civil liberties groups advocating for Palestine’s right to independence came in support of the operations. Netizens went so far as to call Gaza the biggest “open-air prison” in the world, referring to its land, air, and sea blockade since 2007.
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