ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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US sends second aircraft carrier to east Mediterranean to deter Iran, Hezbollah

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says deployment of USS Eisenhower meant ‘to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war’

The USS Eisenhower off the coast of Virginia, December 10, 2015 in the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The USS Eisenhower off the coast of Virginia, December 10, 2015 in the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The United States is sending a second aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean “to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Saturday.

The USS Eisenhower and its affiliated warships will join another carrier group, USS Ford, already deployed to the region in the wake of the brutal Hamas onslaught a week ago and Israel’s ongoing response in Gaza.

The deployment signals Washington’s “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,” Austin said in a statement, presumably referring to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.

A week of deadly fighting was sparked by a Hamas rampage that saw gunmen break through the heavily fortified border between the Gaza Strip and Israel and gun down, stab and burn to death more than 1,300 people, the vast majority of them civilians in their towns and at a music festival.

In Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry said Israel’s response had killed more than 2,200 people. Israel has said it killed around 1,500 Hamas terrorists in Israeli territory.

The United States has sent munitions to Israel and warned other countries not to escalate the conflict.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gives a press conference during the NATO Council Defense Ministers Session at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 12, 2023. (Photo by SIMON WOHLFAHRT / AFP)

The same day as the announcement of the second carrier deployment, US President Joe Biden underscored US support for efforts to protect civilians amid Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“President Biden affirmed his support for all efforts to protect civilians,” the White House said in a statement about the call, which did not specifically mention the enclave.

Biden also spoke Saturday with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since hostilities broke out, condemning “Hamas’s brutal attack on Israel.”

“Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination,” Biden told Abbas, according to a White House statement about the conversation between the two leaders.

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