US deploys a major naval military task force to support Israel in the wake of the Hamas incursion
US deploys the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier, one of the largest war ships in the world
Responding to the Hamas infiltration of Israel on the weekend, US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, announced on Sunday 8th October, that US President Biden had ordered American military ships – referred to as a ‘Strike Group’, to head to the Eastern Mediterranean in readiness to provide reinforcement of Israel’s defense. She said:
‘Today, in response to this Hamas attack on Israel, and following detailed discussions with President Biden, I have directed several steps to strengthen Department of Defence posture in the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts’
There can be little doubt as to the seriousness of the move by the US, given the size and scope of the military force being deployed in the region. The strike Group or to use its official name, ‘The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group’, includes one of the largest warships in the world, the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Also in the group is a guided missile cruiser, the Ticonderoga-class vessel, USS Normandy and four Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers, the USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt.
US Air fighter squadrons reinforce bases across the Middle East
The Defence Secretary further announced that the US had plans to reinforce US. Air Force fighter squadrons in bases across the Middle East in preparedness for strikes against Iran, should they prove necessary. She added:
‘we will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions’
The official advice was that the large deployment ‘reflects a U.S. desire to deter any regional expansion of the conflict’, by blocking the delivery of additional weapons to Hamas. However many pundits have suggested it may achieve exactly the opposite effect.
The attempt to deter escalation of the conflict could backfire
Hezbollah’s Kataib Sayyid Al-Shuhada, very promptly issued a warning to the United States in a statement which read:
‘Palestine is not the Ukraine. If the US directly intervenes in what is happening, in order to stabilise the collapsing regime all the places of American presence in the region will become legitimate targets for the resistance and will face our attacks. On that day no red line will remain’
The Hamas infiltration, which began on the weekend and so far, has claimed over Israeli 800 lives, the largest number of Israeli casualties recorded in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict throughout its history, has resulted in a focus of attention on the prevailing tensions between Israel and Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and militias in both Iraq and Yemen – with the possibility that an escalation into direct war could dramatically interrupt oil flows from one of the world’s major oil-exporting regions. Since the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, there has been a significant uplift in the sophistication of military equipment, which (according to Israeli intelligence) has seen ‘a vast arsenal of rockets and missiles along its [Israel’s] border’
A readout report of the conversation between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the US President, Joe Biden read:
‘The President emphasised that there is no justification whatsoever for terrorism, and all countries must stand united in the face of such brutal atrocities’
Arab League Chief meets with Russian Foreign Minister and calls for recognition of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders
In a meeting this weekend, Arab League Chief, Ahmed Abu Al-Gheit, met with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, in order to discuss how they could assist in ‘stopping the bloodshed’ in Israel and Gaza.
At a press conference which followed the meeting, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated:
‘The Palestinian problem cannot be postponed any longer and the UN decisions must be implemented. Instead of working closely with the Arab League, the Americans are trying to monopolise mediation efforts, and divert the dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis away from a political settlement and away from the creation of a Palestinian state’
A statement by the Chief of the Arab League, Ahmed Abu Al-Gheit, who was effectively representing 22 Arab states, then followed. He said:
‘It is possible to achieve the best for the people of Palestine through the realisation of the political aspirations and the creation states within the borders of 1967. It is impossible to look at this problem from only one side – the side that is trying to be imposed on the world.'
Protesters gather in Arab capital cities decrying indiscriminate air strikes on Gaza
Large crowds of protesters are reported to have taken to the streets in Arab capital cities including Morocco and Jordon decrying the indiscriminate air strikes which have been unleashed on civilian population areas in Gaza since Saturday and which according to the Gaza Ministry of Health have taken the lives of upwards of 600 mostly civilian citizens, including 91 children. The number of injured in the strikes now exceeds 3,000 and there are at least 10,000 displaced citizens.
Israel's Defence Minister refers to residents of Gaza as 'animals in human form'
Israel's Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant referred to the people of Gaza as 'animals in human form', as he announced that Israel would be tightening the long standing blockade on the Strip, by cutting off fuel, electricity and food supplies'. He said:
'Nothing is allowed in or out. There will be no fuel, electricity or food supplies...we fight animals in human form and proceed accordingly'