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Israel gets first joint US military base

Israel on Monday inaugurated with its US ally a joint missile defence base on Israeli soil, the first ever, a senior Israeli air force officer said.
The new facility, at an undisclosed location in southern Israel , was announced as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to meet US President Donald Trump in New York on the fringes of the UN General Assembly .

“ We inaugurated, with our partners from the United States Army, an American base , for the first time in Israel, ” Brigadier General Tzvika Heimowitz, head of Israeli missile defences , told journalists ..

“ An American flag is flying permanently over a US army base situated inside one of our bases. ”

Heimowitz said the move was not a direct response to any specific incident or immediate threat , but was a combination of “ lessons learned” in the 2014 war in Gaza and intelligence analysis of future dangers .

“ We have many enemies around us, near and far , ” he said.

The outgoing Israel air force chief in June warned neighbours of the “ unimaginable” military power at the country ’ s disposal .

On September 7 Syria ’ s army accused Israeli warplanes of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons .

Israel , without confirming it was behind the attack, indirectly warned Syria and Iran that it would not tolerate any “ Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus ”.

Israel accuses Iran of building sites to produce “ precision -guided missiles ” in both Syria and Lebanon and Netanyahu is expected to reiterate the point in his talks with Trump .
The country has bought 50 F-35 stealth fighters from the United States.

Israel has a sophisticated anti -missile defence system , including the Iron Dome short-range interceptor which has successfully brought down rockets fired from Syria , Lebanon, Egypt’ s lawless Sinai region and the Gaza Strip .
It also has the medium-range David’ s Sling and the Arrow missile defence system , designed to counter more distant threats .

Heimowitz did not comment on the specific role of the new joint base , but said the “ few dozen ” US personnel there would be under Israeli command .

“ This is not part of an exercise or manoeuvre , ” he said . “ It is a presence as part of the joint effort of Israel and the US to improve defence . ”

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