US surging air defense and other munitions to Israel, official says

(WASHINGTON) — A senior U.S. defense official on Monday said the Hamas attack on Israel is different from previous conflicts in Gaza, likening the violence by Hamas militants as “ISIS-like savagery” and said U.S. munitions are already en route to Israel, adding bluntly that sending the carrier USS Gerald R Ford was intended to be a deterrent to Iran and Hezbollah.

The official stated clearly that the U.S. is “deeply concerned” that Hezbollah could “make the wrong decision” and start a second front and said the aircraft carrier is to message to them not to do that.

Here is the latest accounting of the U.S. military’s view of the conflict:

‘ISIS-like savagery’

“This is ISIS-like savagery that we have seen committed against Israeli civilians, houses burned to the ground, young people massacred at music festivals,” the official told reporters in a briefing on Monday.

Hamas militants who crossed into Israeli towns near the border with Gaza used “ISIS-level-style tactics and techniques,” the official added highlighting how the current conflict “is different and unprecedented.”

“Hamas militants going across Israel, murdering children in front of their parents, massacring with indiscriminate violence in music festivals, burning down entire houses, while families sheltered in their bunkers. This is different and we want to be very clear about what that is,” said the official.

Surging air defense support to Israel

The official also made clear that the U.S. is already “surging support to Israel, that includes air defense and munitions” and that some munitions are already en route by air to Israel. The official would not disclose what air defense systems are being supported.

However, the Biden administration briefed Congress on Sunday night that Israel is seeking additional artillery rounds, interceptor missiles for the Iron Dome missile defense system, and precision guided munitions according to two U.S. officials familiar with the contents of the briefing.

“The bottom line is we are working as fast as possible to provide critically needed munitions of various types and other equipment,” the senior U.S. defense official told reporters. “We’re also contacting U.S. industry to gain expedited shipment of pending is really orders for military equipment that otherwise may have been considered routine for movement.”

The official also said that the Department of Defense is working with U.S. Central Command “to assess what munitions and other equipment are in U.S. inventory that can be made quickly available for Israel” — a likely reference to the vast stockpile of U.S. military weapons and ammunition that has been in place in Israel for decades.

The officials familiar with the Biden administration’s briefing to Congress said that Israel is already tapping into the pre-propositioned U.S. military stockpile and that the Pentagon is working with the U.S. defense industry to expedite existing Israeli orders of U.S. weapons systems.

Carrier deployment as deterrent, warning to Iran and Hezbollah

On Sunday, the Pentagon announced the deployment of the USS Gerald R Ford carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean as well as additional F-15 and F-35 fighter jets to the region.

The senior U.S. defense official said the deployment of the carrier strike group is “intended to serve as an unequivocal demonstration indeed, and not only in words of U.S. support for Israel’s defense and serve as a deterrent signal to Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, and any other proxy across the region who might be considering exploiting the current situation to escalate conflict.”

“Those adversaries should think twice,” the official said, adding that the carrier will be arriving in the eastern Mediterranean “very soon.”

The official said the U.S. government is “flooding the zone with high-level phone calls and engagement to make clear our desire to contain this conflict.”

‘Deeply concerned’ about Hezbollah and a ssecond front

Soon after launching its attacks Hamas urged Arabs in the region to also strike at Israel, and on Monday the official specifically acknowledged strong U.S. concerns that Hezbollah may open a northern front on Israel from inside southern Lebanon.

“We are deeply concerned about Hezbollah making the wrong decision and choosing to open a second front to this conflict,” said the official.

“We are working with Israel and with our partners across the region to contain this to Gaza and it’s one of the main reasons why we adjusted our posture so quickly to increase our maritime presence in the eastern Mediterranean,” the official acknowledged. “Because Iran-backed adversaries like Lebanese Hezbollah should not question the commitment of the US government to support the defense of Israel.”

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