Top U.S. General makes surprise visit to Israel

October 17, 2023

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) head Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the top U.S. General in the Middle East, made an unannounced trip to Israel on Tuesday amid its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Pentagon said Kurilla arrived in Tel Aviv “to conduct high level meetings with Israel’s military leadership.”

Gen. Kurilla’s visit was the latest by a senior U.S. official since Hamas’ massive surprise attack on Israel on October 7.

Cabinet Secretaries Antony Blinken of the State Department and Lloyd Austin of the Defense Department both traveled to Israel last week. And following a tour of Arab capitals, Blinken was back in Israel on Monday to discuss the war and regional diplomacy.

A war cabinet meeting, during which both Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were in attendance on Monday, was interrupted by a rocket attack on Tel Aviv. The officials were forced to seek shelter during the strike. 

President Biden was scheduled to make a wartime visit to Israel this Wednesday to meet with Netanyahu. Afterward, he planned to head to Jordan, where he would meet with King Abdullah II, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

In a statement Tuesday, Kurilla said, “I’m here to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself, and am particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict.”

Defense Secretary Austin has reportedly ordered 2,000 U.S. troops to prepare to deploy in support of Israel in advisory and medical roles.

Already the Pentagon has sent two carrier strike groups to the eastern Mediterranean to act as a deterrent against any potential foreign aggressors who might engage in the war, and the first tranche of U.S. munitions was delivered to an Israeli airbase a week ago.

PHOTO: Gen. Michael Kurilla assuming CENTCOM helm in 2022

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