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US to provide munitions, equipment to Israel: Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin

Pentagon seen from an airplane over Washington DC, the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie/IANS)

The US will provide munitions and equipment to Israel and boost American forces in the Middle East in response to the attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

“The US government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

On Saturday US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant to convey his condolences.

“Secretary Austin made clear to Minister Gallant his ironclad support for the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli people. He reaffirmed that the Department’s commitment to Israel’s security and its absolute right to defend itself from acts of terrorism is unwavering. Secretary Austin has directed his team to ensure that DoD is closely consulting with all of our Allies and partners who share a commitment to peace and oppose terrorism. Secretary Austin will continue to consult with Minister Gallant in the coming days and weeks to ensure that Israel has the support it needs,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Reiterating unequivocal support for Israel, Austin’s detailed statement on Sunday went on to say: “My thoughts continue to be with the people of Israel and the many families who have lost loved ones as a result of the abhorrent terrorist attack by Hamas. Today, in response to this Hamas attack on Israel, and following detailed discussions with President Biden, I have directed several steps to strengthen Department of Defense posture in the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts.

“I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. This includes the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), as well as the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). We have also taken steps to augment US Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region. The US maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required.

“In addition, the US government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days.

“Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the materiel support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the US ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people. My team and I will continue to be in close contact with our Israeli counterparts to ensure they have what they need to protect their citizens and defend themselves against these heinous terrorist attacks.”