2024 Election

US Confirms 2nd Carrier Group En Route To “Deter Hostile Actions Against Israel”

Update (2100ET): 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 Defense 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 toward 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.

***Update (1330ET): 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”...

Israeli media is reporting a “greenlight” 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 has been limited ground incursions by the army into the strip, targeting Hamas operatives and reportedly to gain 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.” 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 and the music festival, and rocket fire, with at least 3,200 wounded. 27 among the dead were Americans.

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Middle East Eye on Saturday reports 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 cut off external supply sources:

  • 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.

The fate of the estimated 100 to 200 hostages in Hamas captivity still remains largely unknown, but Hamas in statements which have been underreported in Western press has claimed that over two dozen of the hostages have been killed by the IDF’s ongoing aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip:

Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades said nine more captives were killed in indiscriminate Israeli shelling in the last 24 hours, including a number of foreigners. 

Qassam has previously announced the death of 17 captives in Israeli air stikes in Gaza over the past week. 

Sky News and others are also reporting, based on Israeli sources, that bodies of hostages have been recovered after some of the initial IDF infantry cross-border raids which began Friday into Saturday:

Raids carried out on the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces discovered human remains of those who had been missing since Hamas’s attack last weekend, local media is reporting.

According to Haaretz, armed forces entered an enclave where it is thought up to 200 people were being held hostage by Hamas, and retrieved the bodies of several people.

Items belonging to the missing people were also discovered. 

The US said Friday it chartered its first successful evacuation flight, with talk of more to come.

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There are Americans (many of them likely dual nationals) among the population of Gaza, which Washington says it is trying to facilitate safe exit for as Israeli airstrikes continue. Dangerously, the lone Raffah border crossing into Egypt has at this point been bombed several times.

But regional media is reporting there’s been a diplomatic breakthrough on this front, as Israel, Egypt, and the United States have forged an agreement to let foreigners residing in Gaza pass through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.

Scene from the frontlines as the IDF build-up outside Gaza continues:

Huge civilian convoys have been witnessed fleeing to the southern half of Gaza, creating bottlenecks…

The Times of Israel cites a senior Egyptian official as follows:

The official says Israel has agreed to refrain from striking areas the foreigners would pass through on their way out of the besieged Palestinian territory. He adds that Qatar was involved in the negotiations and the participants received approval from the Palestinian terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The agreement  does not deal with hostages being held by Hamas.

A second official at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing point says they received “instructions” to reopen it on Saturday afternoon for foreigners coming from Gaza.

But Egypt is by and large not letting Gazans exit, even erecting bigger concrete barriers of extra border protection, amid what’s setting up to be a catastrophic humanitarian crisis as the Israeli pressure ratchets.

The IDF says it is about to attack the northern half of the Gaza Strip with “great force” – while the US and other countries are urging for caution regarding Palestinian civilians. Below is rare footage of an elite Israeli rescue squad in action (intentionally blurred by IDF sources):

Washington has still all the while said it “stands with Israel” – and has not tried to actually halt the unrelenting IDF bombardment of civilian areas.

Meanwhile, things continue ratcheting in south Lebanon, with reports of new strikes being exchanged between Israel and Hezbollah, and other pro-Palestinian factions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

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