The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier has been dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean Sea while Israel maintains its offensive against Hamas, as reported by US defense officials on Sunday. Joining the aircraft carrier will be a fleet of warships and squadrons of Air Force fighter aircraft, including F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10, as confirmed by The Pentagon.
“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,” said in a statement issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Navigating the warships within the eastern Mediterranean Sea aims to enhance the United States’ ability to provide support to Israel and potentially safeguard American citizens.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken recognized on Sunday that American individuals could be among those harmed, wounded, or held captive. Certain politicians, like Representative Mike Waltz (R-Florida), have suggested the idea of sending special forces to rescue any potential American hostages. Austin committed to maintaining U.S. support for Israel as it deals with the outbreak of violence within its territory.
The USS Gerald R. Ford’s strike group includes Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, USS Roosevelt, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Normandy, according to the Pentagon. On Sunday afternoon, Israeli health officials reported at least 700 deaths and 2,100 missing persons. On the Palestinian side, the Health Ministry documented over 313 fatalities, 1,990 missing individuals, including 20 children killed and 121 children injured.
President Biden has had multiple phone conversations with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, reiterating the United States’ support for Israel. Israel has declared a state of war against Hamas, which is its first such declaration since 1973, and they are determined to achieve victory.