IDF, US Army celebrate inauguration of first American base in Israel

Saul Bowman
September 21, 2017

Israel and the United States inaugurated the first American military base on Israeli soil on Monday, which will serve dozens of soldiers operating a missile defense system, located inside the Israeli Air Force's Mashabim Air Base. "It involved a significant allocation of resources, in the understanding that this was right and necessary and part of the United States' assets in Israel", said the commander of the division, Zvi Haimovich, speaking to Haaretz.

Brig Gen Heimowitz did not comment on the specific role of the new joint base, but said the "few dozen" USA personnel there would be under Israeli command. "The decision expresses the partnership and the strategic commitment between the militaries and the countries", stated Brigadier General Zvika Haimovich.

Various media accounts described the facility as a new, first-of-its-kind USA military "base" in Israel, but EUCOM said that was a mischaracterization of the site, which provides troops with a place to sleep, a dining facility and recreation area. "The buildings are facilities on the existing Israeli Air Force Base to support our USA service personnel who are working there".

Haimovitch insisted that the timing of the base opening wasn't tied to any specific current event and noted that the process of establishing it had been in the works for some two years.

Israel and the United States remain concerned that Iran has continued to work on both its nuclear program as well as its ballistic missile program despite global criticism.

Despite being the first permanent USA military facility, it is far from the first significant military expenditure by the undisputed allied country.

"We established an American base in the State of Israel, in the Israel Defense Forces, for the first time, with an American flag", he said.

The Walla news site first reported on the construction of the U.S. air defense base past year, but lacked specific details, like its location and size. "It was instead shot down by one Patriot missile that was sacked by Israeli air defence soldiers".

Haimovitch noted that in addition to the establishment of the United States base on Monday, Israel's collaboration with the Americans on air defense would again be seen in a few months, when the two militaries launch the Juniper Cobra exercise in February. The radar is useful against medium- and long-range ballistic missile attacks. "It's a message that says Israel is improving the response to threats", said Brig.

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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