First official U.S. military base opens on Israeli soil

The US Air Force formally cut the ribbon on its first permanent base in Israel at Bislach Air Base Monday in a move Israel Defense Forces Brig.

Various media accounts described the facility as a new, first-of-its-kind US 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. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the IAF's Aerial Defense Division.

"It's nothing short of historic", he said.

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

A small group of USA troops carrying out a missile-defense mission in Israel is taking up residence inside a new barracks building on an Israeli base in an effort to improve living conditions for troops.

"The base is here to stay", Haimovitch told reporters who were concerned about the activity of dozens of USA troops who will live there."It involved a significant allocation of resources, in the understanding that this was right and necessary part of the United States' assets in Israel", he said, according to a Tuesday Haaretz report. "It will not get us to 100 per cent, but it will get us much closer to achieving important things during war".

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The new base opens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and USA president Donald Trump plan to meet before the U.N. General Assembly. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commander of US Army National Guard in Europe, said the base "symbolizes the strong bond that exists between the United States and Israel".

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". And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will occur every day.

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. "There's an American presence here, a military force, not civilians". In partnership with the U.S., Israel has installed a multilayered system to fight off both long-range attacks from Iran as well as crude rockets fired from Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

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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. Dozens of USA soldiers will be permanently deployed in Israel.


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