US sends warships and planes to Israel as Sunak vows 'steadfast support' for Middle East ally in war with Hamas

8 October 2023, 16:26 | Updated: 8 October 2023, 23:17

The United States has sent an aircraft carrier, planes and warships to the Middle East to support Israel after Saturday's deadly Hamas attack
The United States has sent an aircraft carrier, planes and warships to the Middle East to support Israel after Saturday's deadly Hamas attack. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

The United States has sent an aircraft carrier, planes and warships to the Middle East to support Israel after Saturday's deadly Hamas attack - as the UK vows 'steadfast support' for its Middle Eastern ally.

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The USS Gerald Ford aircraft carrirer was sent to the region on Sunday in the wake of a brutal Hamas attack which saw more than 1,000 killed and at least 100 taken hostage by the terror group.

President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “to ensure that no enemies of Israel believe they can or should seek advantage from the current situation.”

Meanwhile, the British Government is working to establish the status of UK citizens in Israel after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared "terrorism will not prevail" and pledged "steadfast support" for the nation.

One Brit, Nathanel Young, 20, has been confirmed dead in the attacks - with Jake Marlowe, 26, and Dan Darlington also missing.

In a statement delivered from Chequers, the Prime Minister said: "The scenes that we've seen in Israel over the past 36 hours are truly horrifying.

President Biden ordered US military forces to support Israel alongside Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sunday - with an aircraft carrier, warships and plane on their way to the Middle East.
President Biden ordered US military forces to support Israel alongside Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sunday - with an aircraft carrier, warships and plane on their way to the Middle East. Picture: Getty
The USS Gerald R Ford is the largest warship in the world (file image)
The USS Gerald R Ford is the largest warship in the world (file image). Picture: Getty

"I want to express my absolute solidarity for the people of Israel now is not a time for equivocation, and I'm unequivocal. Hamas, and the people who support Hamas, are fully responsible for this appalling act of terror, for the murder of civilians and for the kidnapping of innocent people, including children."

Mr Sunak said he had spoken with the Israeli PM earlier on Sunday to offer the UK's ongoing support, adding: "Terrorism will not prevail."

Asked what assistance is being provided to British citizens caught up in the conflict, he told reporters: "This is a dangerous and fast-moving situation on the ground. And I know that there will be families who are anxious about their loved ones.

"I want to reassure them that the Foreign Office and the Government here is in close contact with our Israeli counterpart to establish the status of any British nationals on the ground."

Sunak pledged support for Israel in a video message filmed at his country residence at Chequers
Sunak pledged support for Israel in a video message filmed at his country residence at Chequers. Picture: Getty

Israel is continuing to fight to regain full control of its territory while deaths rise above 300 in Palestine as retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza continued into Sunday.

According to Israeli local media, the death toll has now risen to more than 1000 in Israel with more than 2,000 injured - after 260 bodies were found on the site of a music festival near the Gaza strip.

Brit Jake Marlowe, 26, was working as a security guard at the festival and has not been heard of since before the coordinated onslaught began.

Corporal Nathanel Young, 20, from London, was confirmed dead in the attack while serving as a soldier in the 13th Battalion of the Israel Defence Force.

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Death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza rises to 232
Israeli forces levelled a shopping centre in Gaza after the initial attack on southern Israel yesterday morning. Picture: Getty

Nathanel, who lived in Tel Aviv, died in an attack on the Gaza border on Saturday, his family said.

Paying tribute to Nathanel on Facebook, a family member wrote: "Our little brother Nathanel Young was tragically killed on the Gaza Border yesterday."

A further tribute shared with the Jewish news wrote: "Nathanel was full of life and the life of the party - he carried the nickname DJ on base and at Benji's house, the lone soldier house that he lived at.

"He loved his family and friends and was loved by everyone. He loved music and was a talented DJ.

"Always willing to go to any lengths for his loved ones. An amazing uncle and brother. He was so happy and thriving in Israel. He loved the country."

Nathanel's family shared a tribute following his death.
Nathanel's family shared a tribute following his death. Picture: Facebook

Over 100 Israelis have also been kidnapped, according to a press office statement from the Israeli government on Facebook.

More than 370 Palestinians have been killed in the retaliatory strikes, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Daniel Hagari, said in a statement posted to X this afternoon: “Whoever took part will pay the price. The war is difficult and challenging days lie ahead. The IDF is strong and will use every bit of its strength and power.”

It comes after Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group claimed responsibility for a rocket and artillery attack on Israel this morning.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the attack, using "large numbers of rockets and shells", was in solidarity with the "Palestinian resistance".

The group said it targeted three positions on the country’s border, including the Shebaa Farms, a small piece of land occupied by Israel since 1967 - but Lebanon claims is its own.

The Israeli military says it fired back at the Lebanese areas on Sunday morning and continues to evacuate Israeli homes "according to the assessment of the situation".

Read more: Friend of missing Brit, 26, in Israel says he is ‘completely lost’ after friend's disappearance in festival attack

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“The IDF has been taking preparational measures for this type of possibility and will continue to operate in all regions and at any time necessary to ensure the safety of the Israeli civilians," a spokesman said.

Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu declared war after Hamas militant group launched a surprise attack from Gaza which saw the terrorists take both civilian and military hostages.

Thousands of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in a surprise attack by the Hamas militant group on Saturday morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a statement overnight that the IDF will “use all its strength to destroy Hamas's capabilities”.

More than 500 have been killed in Israel, local Israeli media has said.
More than 500 have been killed in Israel, local Israeli media has said. Picture: Alamy

The Israeli military has said that hundreds of Hamaz gunmen who infiltrated the border have now been killed and dozens have been taken prisoner.

Its air force also said its fighter jets struck a “compound belonging to the head of the intelligence department in the Hamas terrorist organisation.”

The Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, approved a call-up for military reservists amid plans to retaliate against the airstrikes - the number of reservists has not yet been confirmed.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, declared war in a statement on Saturday as he said: “Citizens of Israel. We are at war, not an operation, not an escalation, a war.

"This morning Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens. We've been at it since early morning.

"I convened the heads of the security system, first of all I instructed to cleanse the settlements of the terrorists who had infiltrated - this operation is being carried out during these hours.

"At the same time, I ordered an extensive reserve mobilisation and a retaliatory war with a strength and scope that the enemy had never known.

"The enemy will pay a price he has never known. In the meantime, I call on all citizens of Israel to strictly obey the instructions of the army and the instructions of the Home Command.

"We are in a war and we will win it.

The Israeli military then began retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, as the military warned that Hamas will “face the consequences and responsibility” of its actions.

The military ordered Israeli residents to stay indoors amid the airstrikes.

Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel.
Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday morning. Picture: Getty
At least 22 have been killed in the airstrikes.
At least 200 have been killed in subsequent IDF airstrikes on the Gaza strip. Picture: Alamy
Netanyahu declared war after the early morning attack in the Middle East
Netanyahu declared war after the early morning attack in the Middle East. Picture: Israel Government

Hamas fighters were spotted attempting to reach Israel via small boats, while other Palestinian fighters were reportedly seen crossing the border using paragliders.

Air raid sirens sounded across southern and central Israel amid the attacks, with explosions taking place in cities Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Yavne and Kfar Aviv.

Hamas’ infiltration comes despite Israrel’s fence along its border designed specifically to prevent infiltration, as it’s fitted deep underground and is equipped with cameras, high-tech sensors and sensitive listening technology.

The UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said of the situation: “I am shocked by this morning's attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens.

“Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. We're in contact with Israeli authorities, and British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice.”

The US has also said it stands with Israel following the attack from the Hamas militant group.

“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

“There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.”

Israel declared a state of war alert following the surprise attack.
Israel declared a state of war alert following the surprise attack. Picture: Alamy

Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza since Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007.

Hamas said its attack is just the start and is a response to Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and around Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

“We’ve decided to say enough is enough,” Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said. “This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth.”

He also said that 5,000 rockets had been launched, while talking on Hamas radio.

He labelled the strike the beginning of “Operation Al Aqsa Storm”.

The launches came after weeks of heightened tensions along Israel's volatile border with Gaza, and heavy fighting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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