US opens first permanent military base in Israel
THE HILL – ELLEN MITCHELL
Israel and U.S. officials on Monday inaugurated the first permanent American military base in the country, which will house dozens of U.S. troops and a missile defense system.
The base will be located within the Israel Defense Forces Air Defense School in southern Israel, near Beersheba, Defense News reported.
The facility will include a barracks and several other buildings for U.S. troops to be stationed in the country, as well as systems to identify and intercept various aerial threats. It will operate under Israeli military directives.
Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich said the base is largely to serve as “a joint Israeli and American effort to sustain and enhance our defensive capabilities,” and will not bring operational changes such as training or exercises.
“It’s a message that says Israel is better prepared. It’s a message that says Israel is improving the response to threats,” Haimovich, the commander of Israel’s aerial defense, told The Associated Press.
The Pentagon already operates an independent facility nearby in the Negev Desert. The facility is used only by Americans and is meant to detect and warn of a possible ballistic missile attack from Iran.
Israel has been increasingly concerned with Iran’s development of long-range missiles and considers the country to be its greatest threat.