The Israel-Hamas War: U.S. Officials Respond as the Conflict Rages On

Israel-Hamas war
The White House appears cast in colors of the flag of Israel (Public Domain)

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief… in the wake of a series of horrific attacks that took place over the weekend in Israel, this week our analysis will be looking at 1) how U.S. officials have responded to the attacks in recent days, 2) where the 2023 Israel-Hamas War stands so far, 3) a look at Hamas, the militant group behind the attacks, and 4) how the U.S. military is providing support as the death toll rises.

Quote of the Week

“This was an act of sheer evil.”

– President Joseph Biden

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With that all behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to the conflict that erupted in Israel over the weekend and the U.S. response to the Israel-Hamas War.

U.S. Officials Respond to Recent Attacks in Israel 

U.S. officials have been resolute in their denouncement of horrific attacks carried out by the militant group Hamas against Israel last weekend, offering unequivocal support following a sudden bloody conflict that has shocked the world and led to a declaration of war by Israel.

“In this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel,” said President Biden, speaking from the White House earlier this week. “We will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack,” Biden also said.

Israel-Hamas war
President Biden speaks from the White House in response to the Israel-Hamas war (Public Domain).

Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Thursday morning, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also clear in his expression of the support the U.S. has offered in recent days.

“The message that I bring to Israel is this: You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to,” Blinken said this morning.

“We’re here, we’re not going anywhere,” Blinken added.

Blinken is expected to also meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Friday, according to a social media posting by Hussein al-Sheikh, Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General.

The Conflict So Far

On October 7, 2023, the unprecedented surprise attacks involving rockets and a series of deadly raids led by Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, resulted in the deaths of 1,300 people, according to Israeli officials. Additionally, more than 3,000 individuals have been injured, and the identities of close to 100 hostages taken to Gaza following the attacks have been determined by Israel.

Israel-Hamas war
Rockets were fired during the attacks on Saturday, October 8, giving rise to the Israel-Hamas War (Fair Use).

Since the weekend attacks, the death toll in Israel and Gaza has continued to rise amidst threats that Israeli hostages will be killed for every air strike or attack that results in civilian deaths without warning.

The attacks, launched on the Jewish Sabbath and on a religious holiday, were an outgrowth of the conflict that began between Israel and Hamas in June 2006; prior to the attacks that ensued over the weekend, an uneasy cease-fire had been maintained since 2014.

Who is Hamas?

One of the two primary political groups in the Palestinian territories, Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group, has been responsible for rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel numbering in the tens of thousands, as well as several suicide bombings. The group’s primary objective for years has been the use of violence as leverage aimed at liberating occupied Palestinian territories.

Characterized as a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist, nationalist, and militant organization, the group has also called for the outright annihilation of Israel. In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, which placed them in power as the governing authority of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Battle of Gaza in 2007. Today, the group holds a majority in the parliament of the Palestinian National Authority.

The recent attacks by Hamas, which took Israel by surprise, have been deemed the deadliest attack to have occurred in the region in decades, and since the Saturday attacks, 400 Palestinians have also been killed during Israel’s retaliatory attacks on Gaza.

U.S. Provides Military Support in the Israel-Hamas War

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized during a series of calls with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant that the U.S. would pledge its support to the country, which includes military support the U.S. has agreed to provide.

“I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean,” Austin said on Sunday, just one day after the attacks. The strike group includes the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, as well as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy, and Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt, Austin said, adding that plans to augment U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft squadrons in the region were also underway.

Israel-Hamas war
Map depicting the 2023 Israel-Hamas war (Credit: Ecrusized/CC 4.0).

“The U.S. maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required,” Austin said on Sunday, advising that the U.S. will also provide equipment and resources that include munitions to the country as the Israel-Hamas War ensues.

In addition to Israelis and Palestinians, several people from other nations, including at least 25 from the United States, were killed in the weekend attacks. Several more were also taken hostage, according to a statement from President Biden on Tuesday. Given the American casualties and the country’s strategic alliances with Israel, Defense Secretary Austin said this week that the U.S. will continue to provide Israel any provisions that may be required to help it restore security and stability.

“My team and I will continue to be in close contact with our Israeli counterparts,” Austin said this week, “to ensure they have what they need to protect their citizens and defend themselves against these heinous terrorist attacks.”

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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