At least 14 Americans are known to have died in the Hamas assault on Israel, President Joe Biden said Tuesday afternoon, and the U.S. has confirmed that Americans are also among the hostages taken during the attack.
Over 1,000 civilians are confirmed dead, Biden said.
Saying that “the bloody hands of the terrorist group Hamas” had struck Israel, Biden spoke for 10 minutes describing reports from the attack. He said Holocaust survivors had been abducted, babies murdered, and women raped and paraded as hostages.
“These traumas never go away,” said Biden. “At this moment we must be crystal clear: we stand with Israel.”
The U.S., he said, would be providing weapons and expertise to Israel. Task & Purpose confirmed Tuesday that U.S. special operations officials were consulting with Israeli forces on hostage rescue.
Among the weapons headed to Israel are ammunition and interceptor missiles for the country’s Iron Dome system, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a briefing after Biden’s remarks.
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The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and its strike group arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday, according to U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM.
In addition to the aircraft carrier, the strike group also consists of the cruiser USS Normandy and the destroyers USS Thomas Hunder, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt, the news release says.
The U.S. military has also sent F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s to the region to supplement fighter squadrons already there,
“The arrival of these highly capable forces to the region is a strong signal of deterrence should
any actor hostile to Israel consider trying to take advantage of this situation,” Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of CENTCOM, said in a statement.
The Pentagon is considering sending a second aircraft carrier to the region, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, a U.S. official told Task & Purpose on Tuesday.
Biden urged Congress to fund what he called “our critical partners” when it reconvenes this month. Congress was expected to take up a call for massive spending bills on both Ukraine and Israel. Some Senators have called for a one-time spending of between $50 and $100 billion on Ukraine, hoping to get a one-shot bill passed through the House, which has been mostly paralyzed in October as House Republicans brawl among themselves over the Speaker position.
Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant ordered the Gaza strip cut off. “I have given an order – Gaza will be under complete siege,” Gallant said. “We are fighting barbarians and will respond accordingly.”
A Hamas spokesman replied that the group would begin killing civilian hostages in response to Israeli attacks.
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