The Pentagon has acknowledged that the US is flying drones over Gaza to help Israel locate hostages, demonstrating deep US involvement in the war.
“In support of hostage recovery efforts, the US is conducting unarmed UAV flights over Gaza, as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Friday.
The New York Times reported that the flights started days after October 7, and they are being conducted by MQ-9 Reaper drones, which are capable of carrying powerful missiles. At least six MQ-9s are involved in the operations, which the Times says suggests the US is taking a more “active role” in the war than previously known.
The US has also deployed special operations forces to Israel in the wake of the October 7 attack. US officials said the American commandos are in Israel to help locate hostages and insist they are not assigned to combat roles.
Besides the drone flights and special operations, the US has also shipped new weapons to Israel and deployed significant firepower to the region, including two aircraft carrier strike groups. President Biden is looking for an additional $14 billion to spend on the Gaza onslaught, which is on top of the $3.8 billion Israel receives in annual military aid.