A senior defense official said today that the level of Hamas attacks on Israel from Gaza is different than in the past.
President Joe Biden said in a written statement that hundreds of Israelis were killed in the attack, which killed 11 Americans. Hamas terrorists also kidnapped Israelis and took them to Gaza.
“While we are still working to confirm, we believe an American citizen may be among those held by Hamas,” Biden said. “I have directed my team to work with my Israeli counterparts on all aspects of the hostage crisis, including Sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the U.S. government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage rescue efforts.”
The senior defense official said the unprecedented attack by Hamas was known for its violence. “I want to distinguish this incident from other conflicts between Israel and Hamas in Gaza,” the official said. “This is ISIS-level brutality that we are seeing against Israeli civilians – Houses were razed to the ground and young people were massacred at music festivals.”
We are in constant contact with our Israeli counterparts to identify and support their most pressing needs. ”
senior defense official
Since Saturday’s attack, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has worked to make clear that the United States unequivocally supports Israel’s right to defend itself. Austin and other members of the National Security Council have been taking that message to allies and partners throughout the Middle East and Europe. “We have also made it clear to adversaries or those who may be interested in getting involved in this conflict in order to escalate it that they should think twice and not take advantage of the instability,” the official said.
Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yov Galante on Saturday and Sunday. The official said Austin is getting the latest operational information and understanding what equipment and capabilities Israel needs to defend itself.
The United States is “surging” support for Israel, including air defense capabilities and munitions. “We are in constant contact with our Israeli counterparts to identify and support their most urgent needs,” the official said. “Most importantly, we are delivering much-needed ammunition and other equipment of all types as quickly as possible.”
Defense Department officials are also working with U.S. industry to expedite shipments of military equipment that Israel has ordered. “We are also working across the DoD enterprise, including with U.S. Central Command, to assess what munitions and other equipment are in the U.S. inventory that we can manufacture and quickly provide to Israel,” the official said.
The United States is also increasing its presence in the region. Austin orders the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. The aircraft carrier has an air wing and accompanying cruisers and destroyers. The force will conduct sea and air operations to ensure the security of allies and partners throughout the region and ensure regional stability. The strike group is ready to perform a full range of missions.
Austin also ordered more Air Force F-35s, F-15s, F-16s and A-10 fighter jets for squadrons in the region.
“These heightened postures are intended to make clear U.S. support for Israel’s defense with actions, not just words, and to send a signal of deterrence to Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, and any other proxies in the region who might consider taking advantage of the current escalation. conflict,” the senior defense official said. “Those opponents should think twice before taking action.”
Iran is among them, but there is no evidence that country is actively involved. “Iran has provided support to Hamas and Hezbollah for many years,” the official said. “We have long discussed Iran’s role in equipping, training and mentoring armed groups. I am not here to Talk about any specific intelligence. But we’ve been very clear for years about Iran’s role in fomenting instability and fomenting violence across the region.”