NORFOLK-- Three Navy ships that were scheduled to return to Hampton Roads this month are instead moving to the Eastern Mediterranean as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians intensifies in Gaza.

A Navy spokesman at the Pentagon tells 13News military reporter Mike Gooding that three amphibious warships, the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Gunston Hall, have been turned around.

They will now be on standby to respond to any crisis as directed.

Some 2,400 Marines and 2,000 sailors were expected to return to Norfolk and Virginia Beach next week following an eight-month deployment.

The Navy has been working with support groups to notify family members of the change in plans.

The Navy is emphasizing this is simply a 'prudent' step, and there are no active plans for the ships at this point.

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