The United States has begun sending Israel urgently needed ammunition and military equipment, and the Pentagon is checking its inventories to see what else it can send soon to bolster its wartime ally. against Hamas, a senior Defense Department official reported.
The planes have taken off, said the official, who declined to give details about the type of weapon. The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive shipments, also warned that the United States is closely monitoring Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups and noted that the decision to send US ships to the region is to prevent any of these organizations. from entering into conflict with Israel or expanding it.
For his part, President Joe Biden announced that the number of Americans who died in the three-day conflict rose to 11.
The official said the United States is “flooding the area” with calls and other messages to inform extremist groups and other countries that they should not question America’s commitment to supporting Israel’s defense. However, the official did not comment on whether US military forces would intervene.
Although the official said that Washington can respond to the arms needs of Ukraine and Israel and to maintain the security of its territory, the urgent shipment of ammunition for the new conflict has raised concerns.
Congress must quickly approve new funding so the United States can provide weapons and ammunition to Israel and Ukraine, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Monday.
“The purpose is to come out in support of Israel,” he said. “But especially for munitions and the ability to support Israel and Ukraine simultaneously, additional funding is needed to increase our ability to increase production and then also pay for munitions.”
The government is now facing the possibility of Israel and Ukraine making simultaneous requests for more weapons. Although there is strong bipartisan support in Congress for providing aid to Israel, the next steps remain uncertain, with the House of Representatives without a speaker following the impeachment of Republican Kevin McCarthy and the Senate not reconvening until next year.
It is also uncertain whether the debate over providing more aid to Ukraine—something opposed by a group of hard-line Republicans—will complicate efforts to approve aid for Israel.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, Wormuth said the government “is still in the early stages of the process of evaluating our ability to support the needs” of the Israel Defense Forces. He did not go into specifics, but Doug Bush, the undersecretary of the Army for acquisition, told reporters at the conference that talks are already underway about what the United States can offer. He said it was likely a wide range of equipment, from handguns to sophisticated ammunition.
Most of the weapons already sent to aid Ukraine are leaving military and defense contractor stockpiles at a rate that is straining the global supply chain. And while the Army has recently ramped up production on some key lines, such as 155mm shells for howitzers, they are still not operating at full capacity.
Facing a looming ground offensive in Gaza following a surprise attack by Hamas over the weekend, Army commanders expressed concern on Monday about the ability to meet additional demands for ground munitions, saying Congress should act quickly to provide timely assistance.
In addition to the 11 Americans whose deaths were confirmed by Biden, many more are missing. At the moment, it is not known if the missing are dead, hiding, or being held hostage.
Biden said the United States believes it is likely that the Americans were among the hostages taken by Hamas, but authorities are still trying to confirm that.
“I have directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on all aspects of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and bringing in experts from across the US government to consult and advise their counterparts in Israel.” efforts to recover the hostages,” Biden said in a statement.