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US Joint Chiefs Visits Israel Amid Tensions With Iran, Hezbollah

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley. FILE PHOTO
U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley. FILE PHOTO

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley paid an unannounced visit to Israel on July 24 and met with senior Israeli military and intelligence officials.

Israeli media say the unexpected trip came amid rising tensions on Israel's northern border and the possibility of a military showdown with the Lebanese Hezbollah, which is supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

During his short visit, General Mark Milli spoke with the Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, and Army Chief of Staff, Lt. General Aviv Kuchavi in Tel Aviv.

In a separate meeting, General Milli discussed the latest developments with the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and spoke over video conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed the "threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran", and other regional security concerns.

"The IDF and the U.S. Armed Forces share a mutual interest to prevent Iran and its proxies from jeopardizing the stability of the region," Kochavi said, adding that the IDF is "preparing for a variety of scenarios and will act to the extent necessary to remove any threat that endangers the sovereignty of Israel or its citizens."

No further details on the talks have been released so far.

However, the Israeli Channel 13 reported that the trip was to coordinate "operational affairs," and General Milli left Tel Aviv a few hours later.

Channel 13's Senior Defense Correspondent, Alon Ben David, says, the last time Milli visited Israel was in late November last year, a few weeks before a U.S. drone strike killed the Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Qods Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani on January 3, outside Baghdad international airport.

This time, General Milli's presence in Israel coincided with the escalation of tensions between Israel and the United States on one side and Iran on the other.

Following a mysterious explosion at the Natanz nuclear site on July 2, and a series of other suspicious blasts and fires in Iran's infrastructure over the past month, the Israeli media have raised the possibility of their country's involvement in the incidents.

According to a New York Times report earlier this month, the blast at Natanz uranium enrichment center was most likely the result of a bomb planted at the facility, potentially at a strategic gas line. The report did not rule out other possibilities, such as a cyberattack to cause a malfunction leading to an explosion.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, was authorized in 2018 by President Donald Trump to conduct offensive cyber operations against Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, Russia’s intelligence agency, FSB, and other targets.

The White House and CIA have not responded to Forbes's allegation so far.

Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told a news conference on Thursday evening, July 23, in Jerusalem that in its confrontation with Iran, Israel was pursuing three goals consistently; Nuclear program, long-range missiles, and Iran's military presence in Syria.

Nevertheless, he immediately noted that the details of Israel's actions against the Islamic Republic "better remain untold".

The German daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported on July 23 that the Israeli spy agency's plan to strike Iran's nuclear program had been in place for seventeen years.

The plan was prepared during Meir Dagan's term as the head of Mossad (2002-11), and it is still on the agenda, FAZ said.

Citing Israeli intelligence experts, FAZ reported that since a military conquest of Iran or a forced replacement of the Islamic Republic regime seemed unrealistic, the head of Israel's foreign intelligence relied on five paths; "strong international pressure against Tehran, economic sanctions, the sabotage of nuclear facilities, the killing of scientists, the interruption of supplies, and support for opposition groups and Iranian minorities such as Kurds. , Baluchis or Azeris."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, meanwhile, has added that all actions against the Islamic Republic were aimed at dragging Tehran to the negotiation table.

Nonetheless, FAZ says, even the US drone attack and killing the Qods Force Chief Commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad failed to shake Tehran and force it to accept a new round of talks with Washington.

According to the Jerusalem Post, General Mark Millie's unexpected visit to Tel Aviv on Friday came amid escalating tensions on Israel's northern border and the possibility of a military confrontation with Hezbollah.

In the meantime, Israel has assessed that the Lebanese Hezbollah will respond to the killing of one of its fighters, Ali Kamel Mohsen, who was killed in an Israeli strike that struck near Damascus airport, south of the city, last Monday night.

Therefore, The Israeli army has increased its military presence on the northern border and increased security measures.

Moreover, the Jerusalem Post says, Israel has sent a "message" to Hezbollah through Russia to keep calm.

After visiting Lebanon last week, General Kenneth F. Mackenzie, the US commander of the Central Command (Centcom), warned that the Lebanese Hezbollah would experience serious consequences if it went to another war with Israel.