The Pentagon announced Saturday that it had dispatched a second aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean on what officials said was a regularly-scheduled deployment for exercises in Europe.
The White House said the Eisenhower would be available to support deterrence already undertaken by the strike group led by the U.S.’ largest carrier, the USS Ford, already in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Israeli army confirmed on Saturday its preparations for a full Gaza invasion involving land, sea and air. This comes as the death toll among Palestinians surpassed 2,200 and stood at 1,300 in Israel.
The Israeli military said it was preparing for an extensive campaign in Gaza and “the implementation of a wide range of offensive plans, which include, among other things, an integrated and coordinated attack by air, sea and land.”
“Israeli army battalions and soldiers are deployed all over the country and are prepared to increase readiness for the next stages of the war, with an emphasis on a significant ground operation,” the announcement read.
One week after Hamas' attack on Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the sites affected. Meanwhile, airstrikes and rocket barrages intensified in the war.
With 1 million already displaced in Gaza — nearly half the population — Israel continued to call on Palestinians on the northern side to leave the area. Egypt reportedly was set to allow limited access to those with American citizenship to leave through the Rafah crossing but those negotiations were held up over the issue of aid. The State Department estimates that up to 600 Palestinian Americans still remain in Gaza.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued shuttle diplomacy on Friday and was returning to Saudi Arabia for second time in a day, and will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Blinken met his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan earlier in the day. Riyadh has offered its mediation in the conflict.
As a ground invasion nears, the Israeli military faced clashes from the northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah claimed an attack on Friday. Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah was killed in the fire, while three other journalists were wounded by Israeli shelling.
Protests have erupted across many cities in the Arab world, including in Egypt and Jordan, which have peace agreements with the Jewish state.
Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Tunisia also witnessed protests. A ground invasion is now highly anticipated to take place in the coming hours. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Israel and vowed support, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Doha.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held meetings in Israel on Friday and vowed "ironclad" support for the Israeli operation. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is doing shuttle diplomacy and visited Jordan, Qatar and Bahrain on Friday ahead of traveling to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
Click here for our most recent updates.
Live updates (all times EDT):