US denies it’s building secret missile defense base in Israel
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US denies it’s building secret missile defense base in Israel

American military acknowledges it has 'limited infrastructure' on IDF bases, rejects claims covert camp being constructed

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Then US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks to Israeli and US soldiers during a joint exercise called Juniper Cobra 14, May 2014. (Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)
Then US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks to Israeli and US soldiers during a joint exercise called Juniper Cobra 14, May 2014. (Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)

The US military on Thursday night denied reports that a covert American missile base is being constructed in central Israel.

Earlier Thursday, the Israeli Walla news website cited “security sources” as saying that a secret US missile defense base was being built.

According to the report, the alleged anti-missile base was to be staffed continuously by US military personnel and to have access to Israeli radar and computer systems.

“The US military is not building a missile base in Israel,” US European Command spokesperson Lt. Col. David Westover, Jr. told The Times of Israel in an email.

Westover did, however, acknowledge that the US does “maintain some limited infrastructure on existing IDF bases.”

Though not located in Europe, Israel is included under EUCOM’s area of responsibility, rather than the US Central Command, which has operated in the rest of the Middle East since 1983.

The report came two months after the two armies held the large-scale Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise in Israel.

The drill, which has taken place every other year since 2000, has the US military and the Israel Defense Forces cooperating in a variety of missions related to the threat of a missile or rocket attack.

Some 3,200 representatives from the IDF and the US military took part in the exercise, one of the largest training programs of its kind and the “highest priority exercise” for US EUCOM, according to Lt.-Gen. Timothy Ray, head of the US Third Air Force.

Missile attacks, in the form of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles from Iran, medium-range missiles from Hezbollah in Lebanon or short-range rockets from Hamas in Gaza, represent one of the major threats to Israel.

As a result, the US and Israel have cooperated extensively to develop the anti-missile systems that provide protection against these various threats.

The US has either jointly developed or financed all three tiers in Israel’s missile defense program — Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium-range) and Arrow (long-range).

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