Michael Eric Kurilla, head of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), arrived in Israel on Sunday for his second official visit since assuming the role in April.
His arrival followed a meeting last month between a visiting delegation of CENTCOM officials and senior Israel Defense Forces officials, where joint action plans for a multi-front war were discussed and implemented, the IDF said.
The IDF said Kurilla – who was in Israel as recently as May – would focus more on Israel’s air defenses during his visit, without giving further details.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden was given a tour of Israel’s multi-layered air defense systems, which include long-range missiles, medium-range David Slings, short-range Iron Dome and a high-powered laser interception system. Dubbed Iron Beam.
Israel hopes to partner with Washington on the Iron Beam project, which includes American investment in further development and deployment of the system.
Amid reports of efforts to build an integrated air defense network for Israel to cooperate with Arab allies against Iran, a US official told The Times of Israel that the initiative is still ongoing and that Biden has his eye on some technology exported by Israel. Some of its regional allies would “nod” to such cooperation.
The IDF said that during last month’s meetings between the two armies, “mechanisms for operational coordination between the armies and key issues of operational, intelligence and technical cooperation were reviewed,” referring to the discussions as “war games.”
According to the Haaretz daily, the discussion focused on the situation of the war in Lebanon, but there was no discussion of the possibility of direct US involvement in Israeli strikes against the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi also met with a CENTCOM delegation to discuss a “joint assessment of regional security challenges.”
CENTCOM officially assumed responsibility for US military relations with Israel in September of last year. Until then, Israel was placed in the area of responsibility of the European Command (EUCOM) to avoid potential tensions between CENTCOM and the Arab and Muslim nations in its jurisdiction, many of which did not maintain formal relations with Israel and therefore did not wish to be considered mutual allies.
In recent years, however, CENTCOM’s Arab allies have developed increasing ties to Israel, some informally, so the issue has largely faded.
Kohavi will travel to Morocco on Monday in the first official visit by an Israeli military chief to the North African nation.
Kohvi, who is traveling with the Army’s International Cooperation Commander, Brig. Gen. Effie Defrin and Intelligence Research Division chief Brig. Gen. Amit Saar, will meet with senior Moroccan military officials, the IDF said.
“This visit is in addition to recent meetings and cooperation between the two countries, as part of the advancement of military-security cooperation between the State of Israel and the State of Morocco,” the army said in a statement.
Last November, Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed a memorandum of understanding with his Moroccan counterpart, the first between Israel and an Arab nation.
The agreement formalized defense relations between the two countries, allowing for smoother cooperation in their defense establishments and making it easier for Israel to sell arms to the North African state.
With the signing of this MoU, the defense ministries and militaries of the two countries will be able to more easily talk to each other and share intelligence, whereas in the past, such communication was only possible through their respective intelligence services.
In March, senior Israeli military officials completed their first official visit to Morocco, where the two sides signed an agreement aimed at military cooperation, and last month, Israeli officials and Defense Ministry officials participated in a major military exercise in Morocco. Inspector
Earlier this year, Kohawi traveled to Bahrain – also a first – and met with his Qatari counterpart, despite limited ties between the countries.
Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco normalized relations with Israel in 2020.
In Kohavi’s absence, Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Herzi Halevi will assume the responsibilities of the military chief in Israel, the IDF said.