History: First US Air Force base in Israel

History: First US Air Force base in Israel

The U.S. military has established its first permanent base on Israeli soil located inside an Israeli Air Force base in southern Israel.

Though Brig. Gen. Haimovich declined to say if this meant United States forces would participate in Israeli combat operations in the future, he said it was "much more significant than that" simply to have a presence of USA soldiers in the country.

The new base opens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and USA president Donald Trump plan to meet before the U.N. General Assembly. In March, EUCOM Commander Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti visited Israel and "toured various facilities ... to strengthen military ties between the United States and its ally", but no mention was ever made of plans for the new base.

According to the IDF, the base will provide space for the Israeli Air Force and American task force to improve detection, interception and deployment in aerial defense, while strengthening cooperation.

The message was passed along to the IDF, which quickly changed all mentions on its website of a "US military base" to read "US military facility".

Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting in the Syrian civil war. Gen. John Gronski also stressed the "strong bond" between the two countries. "And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will happen every day", he said. There are conflicting reports regarding which military specifically will retain jurisdiction over the base.

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Israel's air defenses now include the Iron Dome, created to shoot down short-range rockets, and the Arrow system which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth's atmosphere. The base will be established inside one of the IDF's already existing Air Force bases used for air defense. The David's Sling missile defense system is created to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300km. Thousands of Israeli and American soldiers take part in the drill.

The building supports troops operating in Israel on a rotational basis, USAREUR said.

"The State of Israel, the IDF and the Air Force know, knew and will know how to protect themselves in war- and peacetime", he said.

Haimovich said the new battalion would enable Israel to deploy more Iron Dome systems in a more effective manner to counter regional threats on Israel's northern and southern borders.

Israel maintains an elaborate missile-defense system to guard against a wide range of threats, including Iron Dome, which was created to shoot down short-range rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

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