Israel agreed to delay an invasion of Gaza until the Department of Defense completes plans to boost air defenses around U.S. troops in the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The Pentagon is sending nearly a dozen air defense systems to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) region, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to protect American service members from credible threats of attacks by Iran-backed militias. U.S. officials had asked Israel to create time to emplace the air defenses before launching operations that promise to trigger more bombardments on U.S. military positions, the WSJ reported, citing U.S. and Israeli officials.
The systems will be in place as early as this week, the officials told the WSJ.
Israel is also factoring the potential for additional negotiations with Hamas over hostage releases and planning for a humanitarian corridor allowing supplies into Gaza once the invasion starts, the officials told the WSJ. (RELATED: Biden Admin Readies Plans To Evacuate Thousands Of Americans From Israel And Lebanon)
Israel’s military is geared to undertake a full-scale ground incursion into Gaza with the goal of destroying the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for deliberately murdering 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, in a bloody Oct. 7 invasion. However, the operation has been held up for days.
Iranian proxy groups accosted bases hosting U.S. troops with rockets and drones at least 13 times between Oct. 18 and Oct. 24, the Pentagon said, causing minor injuries for at least two dozen troops. Defense officials see this as a concerted attempt by Iran to draw the U.S. into conflict mushrooming across the Middle East.
“The U.S. does not seek conflict with Iran. We do not want this war to widen. But, if Iran or its proxies attack U.S. personnel anywhere, make no mistake: We will defend our people, we will defend our security, swiftly and decisively,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
In response to recent escalations by Iran & its proxy forces across the Middle East, SecDef Austin directed the USS Eisenhower, a THAAD BTRY, & additional Patriot BNs to the CENTCOM region to increase force posture, strengthen capabilities & ability to respond to contingencies. https://t.co/5twxq1y5Hq pic.twitter.com/fKjZSrinCi
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) October 22, 2023
Iran-backed Islamist groups in Iraq had threatened to target American forces if the U.S. intervened to help Israel in its war against Hamas.
On Saturday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which was heading to the eastern Mediterranean to boost deterrence vis-à-vis actors seeking to attack Israel, to the CENTCOM area of responsibility. Austin also activated multiple Patriot batteries and one Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in “locations throughout the region to increase force protection for U.S. forces,” according to a Pentagon press release.
An unspecified number of forces were given notice to be ready in the event the Pentagon required them to rapidly deploy to the Middle East, the release said.
The Pentagon and the Israeli government did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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