U.S. To Send 2nd Aircraft Carrier To Eastern Mediterranean, Iran Warns Israel Of ‘Earthquake’

USS Eisenhower

Citing U.S. officials an exclusive report by abcnews.go.com said:

The Pentagon has ordered a second aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean near Israel to deter Iran or Hezbollah from joining the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A senior U.S. official and a U.S. official told ABC News that the USS Eisenhower carrier strike group will be ordered to the eastern Mediterranean to join the USS Gerald R Ford carrier strike group that arrived there earlier this week and is in international waters off of Israel.

“I have directed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to begin moving to the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a statement confirming the deployment. “As part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”

Senior U.S. officials have said publicly this week that the presence of the Ford carrier strike group in the eastern Mediterranean and the addition of more U.S. Air Force fighter jets to the region was intended to show the U.S. commitment to Israel and to serve as a deterrent to Iran and Hezbollah not to get involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“These posture increases were intended to serve as an unequivocal demonstration in deed and not only in words of U.S. support for Israel’s defense and serve as a deterrent signal to Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, and any other proxy across the region who might be considering exploiting the current situation to escalate conflict,” a senior U.S. defense official said Monday. “Those adversaries should think twice.”

Having the USS Eisenhower joining the USS Ford will increase the show of force enhancing that message of deterrence.

Amphibious Assault Ship

A third U.S. official told ABC News that the Pentagon is also considering the deployment of the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship closer to Israel to provide additional support if needed. The consideration of the ship and the rotary aircraft it carries while on deployment to the Middle East was first reported by CNN.

The Eisenhower strike group left Norfolk, Virginia, earlier on Saturday bound for a previously scheduled deployment that would take it to the Middle East via the Mediterranean Sea where it was to participate in previously-scheduled exercises in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.

Its pending deployment led to speculation that it might be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to join the USS Ford, but a Pentagon statement would only say that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would “continue to review both the Eisenhower and Ford’s deployment plans as he considers the appropriate balance of maritime capability across theaters in support of national security priorities.”

The Eisenhower strike group includes the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, and the guided missile destroyers USS Laboon, USS Mason and USS Gravely.

The USS Ford strike group arrived in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday and in addition to the carrier includes the cruiser USS Normandy, destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt.

Other media reports said:

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to deploy to the Eastern Mediterranean, as part of Washington’s effort to put additional pressure on Tehran, Lebanese Hezbollah and other pro-Palestinian regional groups not to get involved into the ongoing Israeli war with Hamas in Gaza.

The Pentagon chief 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.”

U.S.’ Ironclad Commitment To Israel

“The increases to U.S. 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.

In a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant earlier in the day, Austin “provided updates” on Washington’s “efforts to continue flowing air defense capabilities and munitions to the Israel Defense Forces,” but also emphasized the “importance of adhering to the law of war, including civilian protection obligations, and addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza while Israel continues its operations to restore security.”

The U.S. 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.

The escalation between Israel and Hamas began last Saturday, when the Palestinian militant group launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, which left 1,300 Israeli civilians and soldiers dead, as well as at least 120 people, including foreigners, taken hostage.

Israel responded with massive air strikes on Gaza, which have killed upwards of 2,200 Palestinians and displaced over 430,000 inhabitants of the densely-populated territory. 

Israel ordered some 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their area, while the Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday that it is completing preparations for a “significant ground operation,” which will include a “joint and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land” in Gaza.

Iran’s Warning To Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has urged Israel to end its airstrikes on Gaza, warning that the conflict with Hamas could spread across the region if Israel sends ground forces into the enclave, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah enters the fray.

“I know about the scenarios that Hezbollah has put in place,” Amir-Abdollahian said in a briefing with reporters in Beirut on Saturday. “Any step the resistance will take will cause a huge earthquake for Israel.”

According to two diplomatic sources cited by Axios, Iran is trying to prevent the war from spreading, and seeking to help Israeli civilian hostages being held in Gaza – but if the military operation continues and Israel goes ahead with a ground offensive, Iran will have to respond.

“There is still a political opportunity to prevent a widespread crisis in the region,” the minister noted, but “may be, in the next few hours, it will be too late.”

This week, the top Iranian diplomat visited Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where he met with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as well as top Lebanese officials, to discuss the “potential outcome” and the “positions that must be taken” in light of the war.

In a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, Amir-Abdollahian accused Israel of “war crimes” against the people of Gaza and repeated his warning that if Israel does not stop, “any possibility is conceivable.” Bou Habib backed his counterpart, saying that Lebanon “has never wanted or sought war” and warning that further escalation “will ignite the region and threaten security and peace in it.”

“We are in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and call for the end of the siege and the delivery of aid to Gaza,” Bou Habib stressed.

Hezbollah fighters are on full alert along the Lebanon border, and have been exchanging sporadic fire with Israel since last Saturday’s Hamas incursion that left at least 1,300 Israeli civilians and soldiers dead.

The Iran-backed group is considered a major threat to Israel, as it possesses some 150,000 rockets and missiles, including precision-guided missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel, as well as thousands of battle-hardened fighters and various types of military drones.

The top Iranian diplomat also met with a senior political leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Qatar on Saturday evening, but details of the meeting have yet to be disclosed.

Middle East On Brink Of Full-fledged War, Says Russian Ambassador To UN

The Middle East is on the verge of a major war, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, has warned, commenting on the recent flare-up of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. The diplomat also condemned the “terrifying” level of violence witnessed in the region of late and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Speaking to the media following a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, Nebenzia said that the “region is on the brink of a full-fledged war and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.” He noted that Russia “unequivocally condemns” the killings of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. “What happened on Israeli territory on October 7 is unacceptable,” the official stressed.

According to the Russian diplomat, “responsibility for the brewing war in the Middle East lies in large measure with the U.S.” Nebenzia accused Washington of “irresponsibly and egoistically” blocking the work of the quartet of mediators comprising the UN, the U.S., EU, and Russia. He claimed that the U.S. has been trying to monopolize the process and force its own vision of peace on Palestine, but without resolving the underlying causes of the conflict.

The diplomat also pointed out that Israel has long been in violation of various UN resolutions, including by expanding its illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. Nebenzia went on to stress that while Israel has every right to defend its citizens,” Russia views its latest tactics as tantamount to a collective punishment of Palestinians, and as such is unacceptable.

U.S. Has Enough Weapons For Both Israel And Ukraine, Says Pentagon

An earlier media report said:

Washington can meet all of Israel’s requests for weapons, equipment and ammunition while continuing to support Kiev, a Pentagon spokeswoman told reporters on Monday.

“We are able to continue our support both to Ukraine, Israel, and maintain our own global readiness,” a senior U.S. Department of Defense official said in a background briefing.

“While we are providing and will continue to provide a significant amount of support to Ukraine, we are careful about ensuring we can also respond to other crises and contingencies, support other partners and maintain our own military readiness and our ability to support others,” the official later added.

The U.S. has been able to meet “every every request our Israeli counterparts have made” and anticipate “continual delivery” on some of those requests, the official also said. While declining to discuss specifics, the spokesperson said this did apply to ‘Iron Dome’ systems and other air defenses.

The Pentagon is “working as fast as possible” to expedite the delivery of “critically needed” ammunition and equipment, as well as contacting military contractors to expedite pending Israeli orders.

When reporters voiced concerns about how the U.S. weapons might be used, the Pentagon official said there were “robust end-use monitoring practices and procedures” in place, and that the U.S. was “in constant dialogue with the Israelis about their operational plans.”

U.S. cargo planes have already begun landing in Israel.


Speaking after a press conference concluding his two-day visit to Kyrgyzstan on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “Israel, of course, faced an unprecedented attack, which has never happened in history, and not only in scale, but also in the nature of its execution, in cruelty.” According to the Russian head of state, the only way to resolve the decades-long conflict is through negotiations and the creation of an independent Palestine.

Putin noted that Russia, with its close ties to both Israel and Arab nations, is ready to take on the role of mediator, provided that the belligerents agree to that.

Putin Blames U.S.

The ongoing crisis in the Middle East triggered by last week’s surprise incursion by the Palestinian militant group Hamas into southern Israel is a testament to Washington’s inability to resolve conflicts, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

“I believe many would agree with me that it is a glaring example of the failures of the U.S. Middle East policies. They tried to monopolize the peace settlement, but unfortunately paid no attention to searching for compromises that would be acceptable for both parties,” the Russian leader explained on Tuesday.

Instead, Washington put pressure on both sides in an attempt to impose its own solutions on them, he added. The U.S. “never took into account the core interests of the Palestinian people, “Putin claimed. Those interests primarily involve the creation of an independent Palestinian nation state, as outlined in UN Security Council resolutions, he noted.

Putin made the remarks during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani in Moscow. The Russian president said he believed the two nations were united in prioritizing the minimization of harm done to civilians by both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Other senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, had previously blamed the U.S. for the renewed hostilities.

Lavrov suggested on Monday that the so-called quartet of Middle East mediators – which includes the U.S., Russia, the EU and the UN – should take a leading role in peace talks. The U.S., he said, had sidelined this mechanism to “monopolize” the process for its own benefit.

Moscow has condemned all violence against civilians, regardless of which side of the conflict carries it out, and has argued that fighting extremism is no substitute for a genuine reconciliation based on a two-state solution.

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