The Pentagon has ordered a second carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to two US officials, as Israel prepares to expand its Gaza operations.
The first carrier strike group, led by the USS Gerald R. Ford, arrived off the coast of Israel earlier this week.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Saturday night that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrying nine aircraft squadrons, as well as two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser, will soon join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier group in the region to “deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts towards widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”
The Biden administration made clear that the carrier and its accompanying force are not there to engage in combat activities on behalf of Israel but rather to deter others from entering the conflict, including Hezbollah.
“The increases to US force posture signal the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,” Austin stated.
Additionally, the US administration has so far ruled out sending military personnel into Gaza as part of any Israeli ground invasion or attempt to free American hostages there, only aiding the IDF with intelligence and operation planning.
The Israeli military has announced it is prepared for a coordinated air, ground, and naval offensive in the Gaza Strip “very soon,” according to reports from AP.
In a nationally broadcast address Saturday night, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari issued a new appeal to residents to move to the southern Gaza Strip.
“We are going to broadly attack Gaza City very soon,” he said.
He accused Hamas of trying to use civilians as human shields.
Meanwhile, the social media rhetoric between leaders has gone to ’11’…
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei expects a “complete victory”…
With God’s grace, this movement that has started in #Palestine will advance and result in a complete victory for the Palestinians.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) October 14, 2023
Calling on all Muslims to join the fight…
Everyone in the Muslim world has a duty to support the Palestinian people.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) October 14, 2023
Israeli PM Netanyahu made his views very clear:
Make no mistake, Israel will win. 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/QzOVxUJs6E— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) October 14, 2023
Israeli media is reporting that a “green light” has been given for the expected major Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip as massive convoys of Palestinian civilians have been observed fleeing to the southern part of the densely populated strip. So far, there have been limited ground incursions by the army into the strip, targeting Hamas operatives and reportedly gaining intelligence on the whereabouts of hostages.
The United Nations has issued a report saying at least 423,000 Palestinians have already been internally displaced within Gaza, and this massive figure is expected to ratchet further. Likely, it has surpassed a half-million as of Saturday, following the Israeli-issued evacuation order, which included dropping thousands of leaflets and warnings over Gaza City.
The UN said it “considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.” The Middle East Eye and other regional sources have said over 700 Palestinian children were killed in one week of fighting. As of Friday, Israel authorities tallied that over 1,300 Israelis were killed by the Hamas terror attacks on the southern settlements, the music festival, and rocket fire, with at least 3,200 wounded. 27 of the dead were Americans.
Middle East Eye on Saturday reported the following of the mounting Palestinian death toll in both Gaza and the West bank as follows:
Israel has killed at least 2,215 people in Gaza over the past week, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Of those killed, 724 are children and 458 are women. Some 8,714 people have been wounded in the besieged enclave in that time, it added.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed 54 people and wounded 1,100 others in the occupied West Bank.
According to a review of the last hours of developments, the population is about to run out of water as the remaining supply dwindles after Israel cuts off external supply sources.
- The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says its shelters in Gaza “are not safe anymore” as it warns water running our for besieged enclave’s residents.
- More than 320 Palestinians have been killed in the past 24 hours, including many women and children killed in Israeli air raids on convoys fleeing Gaza City, according to health officials.
- The rising toll comes as Israel continues bombing Gaza a day after telling 1.1 million residents to head south ahead of a looming ground offensive following Hamas’s attack inside Israel last week.
- At least 2,215 Palestinians have been killed and 8,714 wounded in Israeli air attacks on Gaza. The number of people killed in Israel has reached 1,300, with more than 3,400 wounded.
- In the occupied West Bank, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the past week has topped 50. More than 1,000 have been wounded and hundreds arrested.