By Erin Viner
Minister Gantz began his official visit to the US in a meeting with NSA Sullivan at the White House.
“At the onset of the discussion, Minister Gantz emphasized the unique bond between the US and Israel, one based both on shared values and mutual interests,” according to an Israeli Ministry of Defense statement obtained by TV7, adding that he also “thanked Sullivan for the US Administration and President Joe Biden’s commitment to the security cooperation between the respective defense establishments.”
Turning to Tehran’s advancement of its nuclear development program as well as its destabilizing regional activities, Minister Gantz emphasized the need for Jerusalem and Washington to work closely in preparation “for any future scenario,” said the statement, to “be conducted within the framework of Israel’s excellent defense cooperation with the US and growing ties with regional partners.”
Minister Gantz went on to brief Advisor Sullivan on the recent wave of Arab/Palestinian terror that has claimed 20 lives in Israel. During discussion about ongoing operational activities to counter incitement and terror, Minister Gantz underscored Israel’s resolve to “take the measures necessary to defend its citizens and sovereignty,” said the statement.
Israel’s top defense chief added that Jerusalem’s security establishment is continuing its policy of promoting confidence-building measures vis-a-vis Palestinian civilians who are not involved with terror activity.
In a subsequent meeting at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the Israeli Defense Minister voiced gratitude for “the ongoing cooperation between the respective defense establishments and for the Secretary’s personal commitment to the security of the State of Israel.”
Gantz re-emphasized the historic changes in the region alongside the mounting threat posed by Iran’s aggression and support for terrorism. In light of the changing regional architecture, Jerusalem’s top defense official stressed “a critical need for a practical coalition under U.S. leadership, together with regional partners in facing Iran.”
In related developments, US Central Command (CENTCOM) Head General Michael Kurilla concluded his inaugural visit to Israel last night, where he became the first foreign general to observe an IDF exercise from the highly classified “Fortress of Zion” subterranean ‘Command and Control’ bunker. He also observed the widescale Chariots of Fire exercise, which includes additional smaller-in-scale joint US-Israel drills.
Gen. Kurilla also discussed joint challenges faced by the IDF and the US Armed Forces with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, which “first and foremost” includes “the Iranian nuclear threat and Iranian regional entrenchment throughout the Middle East.”
IDF officials also “presented the main points of the IDF’s operational activity in (Israel’s) Northern and Palestinian arenas with an emphasis on future innovations in fire, strike, intelligence, connectivity and digital capabilities” to the visiting CENTCOM Commander.
In other developments, the Iron Dome missile defense system was activated this morning after a threat near the border with Lebanon was mistakenly perceived. According to a statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, “air defense soldiers launched interceptors and as a result an alert was activated” following “a misidentification.” The Israeli Air Force has launched an investigation into the incident, which caused no reported injuries or damage.