U.S. Moves Fighters Into Mediterranean in Response to Attack on Israel

As fighting continues, U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighters will be sent to the region.

The world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), seen here in August, was directed to move to the eastern Mediterranean as part of the U.S. bolstering forces in the region. [Credit: U.S. Navy]

In the wake of a multifront surprise attack on Israel by Islamic militant group Hamas that left an estimated more than 1,100 dead and thousands more wounded, the U.S. military is bolstering its air power and mobilizing forces into the region.

The move could mean as many as 20-25 U.S. F-35 and F-15 fighter jets will be sent to the region, CNN reported.

Early Saturday morning, intense fighting erupted when at least 1,000 Hamas fighters struck Israel in a highly coordinated attack by land, sea, and even paragliders, killing civilians and taking hostages. In response, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deployed fighter jets and attack helicopters to Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world with a population of about 2.3 million in an area of about 141 square miles. 

Sunday evening, IDF said that "dozens of fighter jets struck 150 targets in Shuja'iyya," an area Israeli military officials said was used as a "terror nest" for the Hamas terrorist organization. IDF said that its fighters also struck targets it said were used by Hamas in multistory buildings, as well as a bank and a location used as a command center.

By Monday morning, Israeli officials said IDF fighter jets and attack helicopters, aircraft and artillery had struck more than 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist targets, CBS News reported. Airstrikes also leveled much of Beit Hanoun, a town in the northeast corner of Gaza, The Associated Press reported.

At least 1,200 deaths have been reported in Israeli and Palestinian territories. At least 74,000 residents of Gaza were displaced and sheltered in 64 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) shelters in the Gaza Strip, the agency said, adding that numbers were likely to rise with increased shelling and airstrikes.    

U.S. Forces Move into Region

The U.S. offered a swift response Sunday, as the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered U.S. forces into the eastern Mediterranean near Israel in order to strengthen both the American military posture and deterrence efforts in the region.

"I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean," Austin said. "This includes the U.S. 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). 

"We have also taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region. The U.S. maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required."

Hamas responded to the announcement of the show of support of Israel, calling it "aggression against Palestinian people," CNN reported.

"These movements do not frighten our people nor their resistance, which will continue to defend our people and our holy places," Hamas spokesperson Hazem Kassem said in a statement.

Israel, which is not a member of NATO, received support from the alliance following the attack.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and all those affected. Terrorism is a fundamental threat to free societies, and Israel has the right to defend itself," said NATO spokesman Dylan White, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Support flowed in from Ukraine, as well.

"Terror has opened far too many fronts against humanity. The war against Ukraine. The war in the Middle East. Terrible destabilizations throughout Africa," Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video post on X, formerly Twitter. "Being strong under such circumstances is to confront terror. Being a large country is not enough. Being a wealthy country is not enough. It's not enough to have ambitions. Being strong means helping to protect people and life against any form of terror. Helping—that is the way."

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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