Pentagon pushes U.S defense titans to send weapons

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Israeli soldier work on a tank at the Israel-Gaza border. 

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Monday it is coordinating with U.S. defense titans to expedite the shipping of pending Israeli weapon orders as violence in the region escalates following a horrific weekend terror attack carried out by Hamas.

“I am not going to get into specifics on this call but the bottom line is we are working as fast as possible to provide critically needed munitions of various types and other equipment,” a senior Defense official said.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity per rules established by the Pentagon, added that military cargo planes carrying security assistance have already departed U.S. soil en route to the region.

The Pentagon declined to share specific details of the types of security assistance the U.S. was providing to Israel. Defense names rose broadly in the market on Monday. The iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF jumped 4.5% with Northrop Grumman surging 11%.

“We are anticipating continuous delivery on some of the requests Israel has made,” the official said, adding that the attacks carried out by Hamas on Israeli civilians “was ISIS-level savagery.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday ordered the movement of U.S. firepower closer to the region in order to project force and bolster Israeli security assistance.

The stalwart USS Gerald Ford Carrier Strike Group, which includes aircraft carrier USS Gerald Ford, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy, the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt, will shift to the eastern Mediterranean per Austin’s orders.

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“We have also taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region,” Austin wrote in a Sunday statement.

Saturday’s unprecedented land, air and sea attack on Israel has since triggered a fury of Israeli retaliatory airstrikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hamas’ attack on Israel “a terrible mistake” and warned that the retaliatory strikes were “just the beginning” in a televised evening speech.

“The images of the devastation and destruction from the Hamas strongholds in Gaza are just the beginning. We have eliminated many hundreds of terrorists and we will not stop there,” Netanyahu said.

“This war was forced upon us by a terrorist enemy,” the Israeli leader added.

So far, the conflict has claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people, of which 11 are American citizens.

“We also know that American citizens still remain unaccounted for and we are working with Israeli officials to obtain more information as to their whereabouts,” President Joe Biden said in a statement late Monday.

Biden said that he directed his team to work with Israeli counterparts “on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts.”

U.S. stocks largely shrugged off concerns from the Israel-Hamas war. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended Monday’s session up nearly 200 points, and the S&P 500 climbed 0.6%.

Energy stocks rallied on the back of a 4% jump in oil prices. Exxon Mobil gained 3.5%, and Occidental Petroleum ended the day 4.5% higher.

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CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this story.

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