US ramps up military aid to Israel as dreaded Gaza ground assault looms

US ramps up military aid to Israel as dreaded Gaza ground assault looms
US commitments to Israel have taken the form of military aid and the deployment of additional military assets to the region, with $14 billion financial assistance expected to be delivered pending congressional approval.
3 min read
20 October, 2023
US military aid has been arriving at Israel's Ben Gurion airport since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza [Getty]

The US has doubled down on its commitment to Israel amid a bloody and indiscriminate assault on besieged Gaza with a pledge of more military aid, including thousands of shells originally destined for Ukraine.

President Joe Biden visited Israel on Wednesday to reinstate Washington's "iron-clad" relationship with the country, following an earlier visit by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

It comes as over 4,100 Palestinians were killed in Israel's bombardment of Gaza, in response to an attack by Hamas fighters in Israel, killing 1,400 people.

Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Biden reportedly gave Israel the green light to invade Gaza, which will likely cost many more lives, while Lloyd Austin said US weaponry was "rapidly flowing" into Israel ahead of the planned ground assault.

Live Story

Meanwhile, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Israel's bombing campaign was "at a rate not seen in decades".

Military aid

The US has promised billions of dollars in extra funding for Israel, which Biden announced in a speech on Thursday.

The funding, which requires congressional approval, will amount to a total of $14 billion according to CNN, and is part of an initiative to "sharpen Israel's qualitative edge" according to Biden.

Israel is already the biggest recipient of US foreign aid with military aid to the country amounting to $3.8 billion in 2023.

However, additional funding is only one such source of additional aid, with military material also being sent to Israel to reinforce its campaign.

This includes armoured vehicles which the Israeli defence ministry announced had arrived in Ben Gurion Airport Thursday, replacing vehicles damaged in recent fighting. The defence ministry added that these would be followed up with further procurement orders internationally.

Israel's Iron Dome system will also be reinforced with two extra systems under a leasing agreement with Israel, US officials told Reuters, with further munitions being provided by the US to ensure a continuous supply of interceptors.

The US also plans to send tens of thousands artillery shells originally destined for Ukraine to Israel, according to Axios.

The request comes as the Israeli army said it needed more shells for both its planned ground operation in Gaza and in case a second front against Hezbollah on the Lebanon-Israel border opens up.

US deployments and a widening war

The US military has also sent troops and warships to the Middle East in a bid to meet the objectives of "supporting Israel's defence through security assistance, sending a strong signal of deterrence to any actors who might be thinking of entering the conflict and staying vigilant to any threats to US forces," according to Austin.

Most significant was the deployment of two carrier strike groups, the USS Eisenhower and USS Ford, to the eastern Mediterranean in a move Secretary Blinken described as being "a deterrent".

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit alongside the USS Bataan amphibious support ship has also been tasked with moving into the Mediterranean from their current Gulf deployment, with 2,000 additional US personnel across the region planed at a "heightened state of readiness", according to the Department of Defence.

Live Story

Since the Gaza bombardment began, US bases in Iraq and Syria have been attacked by drones and rockets while a US destroyer reportedly intercepted three missiles fired by Yemen's Houthis and headed for Israel.

A summit due to be held in Egypt's capital Cairo Saturday with leaders and high-ranking officials from Europe and the Middle East will look to limit the spread of the conflict.

The current war between Hamas and Israel has killed 4,137 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 81 in the West Bank, and over 1,400 Israelis.