Hours after the deadly Hamas attack inside Israel, US President Joe Biden promised ‘rock-solid and unwavering’ support to its closest ally in the Middle East.
Washington, which provides about $3bn in annual military aid to Israel, has ordered the movement of military ships and aircraft closer to Israel as a show of support following Saturday’s attack by the Palestinian armed group.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Hamas attack a “massive terrorist attack” in an interview with ABC News on Sunday. “We have immediately engaged our Israeli partners and allies. President [Joe] Biden was on the phone with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu early yesterday to assure him of our full support,” he added.
Here’s the US military support for Israel:
- The USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group will be moved to the Eastern Mediterranean alongside its accompanying warships.
- The USS Ford is the US Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier, alongside being one of the largest in the world. The carrier hosts a guided missile cruiser and four guided missile destroyers
- The US is additionally sending USS Normandy, a guided missile cruiser armed with naval guns, and destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt.
- Austin said that the US is augmenting Air Force F-35, the most advanced fighter jet in the world, along with the F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.
- “I do not understand in strategic military terms why the US would send aircraft carriers – with some 5,000 sailors on it – and the most sophisticated aircraft in the world when Israel is more than capable of dealing with Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” said Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, Marwan Bishara. Bishara called the US decision to move the Ford Carrier a major escalation.
- US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday the US would provide munitions to Israel.
- “We don’t know exactly what kind of munitions, but it is suspected that Israel has requested both interceptors and precision-guided munitions,” said Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Washington, DC. Hendren said that the interceptors are for Israel’s Iron Dome defence system. Those are the devices that strike the Hamas rockets and in some cases cause them to harmlessly explode in the air rather than land.
- The Al Jazeera correspondent said that $2bn worth of US munitions have been pre-supplied in six different locations in Israel that can be used in case of emergencies.
How much military aid does the US give Israel?
- Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington, DC, said that the US contributes $3bn a year in military aid to Israel.
- Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of United States foreign assistance since World War II.
How has Hamas responded to US aid to Israel?
Hamas has labelled the US announcement as “aggression” against Palestinians.
“The announcement of the US that it will provide an aircraft carrier to support the occupation [Israel] is actual participation in the aggression against our people,” the group said in a statement on Sunday.