WASHINGTON — A day after the United States’ first package of security aid arrived in Israel, a senior Pentagon official said more will be on the way.
“It’s both munitions and air defense,” said the official, speaking on background with reporters. “We intend to continuously be delivering both to the Israel Defense Forces.”
The terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, launched a startling, deadly attack on Israel Oct. 7. Between the initial assault and the Israeli military’s response, some 2,500 people have now been killed, including 27 American citizens, according to the White House.
Israel’s government has said it will launch a ground invasion of Gaza, home to more than 2 million people, and has mobilized some 300,000 reservists for the conflict. In support, the U.S. is surging aid to its closest Middle Eastern ally.
The assistance provided will include air defense, precision-guided munitions, artillery and interceptors for Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome air defense system. The official discussing such aid wouldn’t specify which munitions will be given and how many — even a range — but did mention small diameter bombs and kits that make “dumb” bombs more precise are among those in discussion.
In part, this effort involves accelerating the U.S. industrial base’s conveyor belt of weapons already awaiting delivery in Israel. However, “the request for additional Iron Dome defense that we’re discussing, is most likely going to be above and beyond what Israel has already ordered,” the official said.
Such weapons are part of a larger show of support.
America’s most advanced aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, arrived in the region yesterday. The carrier strike group is serving as a floating symbol, Pentagon and White House officials said. It’s meant to send the message that if adversaries, such as the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah or Iran, want to join the fight, they shouldn’t.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a televised address from the White House on Oct. 10, vowing the U.S. will “make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack.”
On Oct. 12, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Tel Aviv for meetings with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will arrive Friday, according to the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives still lacks a confirmed speaker. Unless one is confirmed, Congress cannot send supplemental aid to Israel.
“We’ve got to get the House back to work,” Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican nominee for speaker, said in a Fox News interview Oct. 11. “There are real things that need to be done.”
Noah Robertson is the Pentagon reporter at Defense News. He previously covered national security for the Christian Science Monitor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and government from the College of William & Mary in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.