The United States considers Israel its strongest ally in the Middle East, so when Hamas launched an attack on Israel on Saturday, it was unsurprising the U.S. quickly responded by promising assistance.
The Department of Defense is directing the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the USS Normandy cruiser and several destroyers to move to the Eastern Mediterranean near Israel.
Retired Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Teichert said the support the U.S. can provide is more than just symbolism.
"It's an effort of deterrence, which means that the United States is amassing forces there in the Eastern Mediterranean to deter future escalation or further escalation by other terror groups like Hezbollah or others that are supported by Iran," Teichert told Scripps News, "and then ultimately, if needed, to help evacuate American citizens that are in Israel or the region from an area that could be dangerous to them.
The U.S. assistance comes as Israel said it is conducting a "complete siege" on the Palestinian-held Gaza Strip. So far, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of over 700 Israelis and 400 Palestinians. Nine American citizensare among the dead.
"Israel is going to do what it needs to do to defend itself," Teichert said. "But I know, based on their values and those that I work with in the Israeli Defense Forces, that they're going to do everything they can to protect civilian life as well."
Israel has a robust air defense system, but that does not make it immune to attacks, as the nation saw over the weekend. However, assistance from the U.S. could help Israel bolster its defense capabilities.
"I've heard the statistic of 90%, and if you consider 5,000 missiles, then 90% effective means about 500 missiles are getting through," Teichert said. "And it certainly is the case that when you are bombarded by a large and saturated attack, like the kind we saw on Saturday morning, it makes it extra difficult for a system like the Iron Dome. They've got plenty of replenished stocks for it, but ultimately, they will need some added equipment from the United States, and we're going to do our best to provide it to them."
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