No American troops will be deployed to Israel, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House on Thursday. The US will continue to supply the Israel Defense Forces in their fight against Hamas, however.
“We have national security interests throughout the region,” Kirby said at the daily press briefing, referring to the deployment of a carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean, but quashed any rumors of airborne troops or Marines being sent to Israel.
“The Israelis have made it very clear that they don’t want foreign troops on their soil, that they want to prosecute these operations on their own and they have every right to want to do that,” Kirby said. “There are no intentions, no plans to put American troops on the ground in combat.”
The US already has “some experts” providing West Jerusalem with “advice and counsel” on how to free hostages taken by Hamas, and maintains a “terrific information and intelligence-sharing relationship” with Israel, as well as “a strong defense relationship, when it comes to providing weapons and munitions,” Kirby added.
The IDF is “small but very capable” and the US is “doing everything we can to improve those capabilities,” he added.
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Earlier in the day, IDF chief of staff General Herzi Halevi said that the military “failed” to protect Israel and its people on Saturday, and that there would be a reckoning once the war against Hamas was over.
The Palestinian group that controls much of Gaza struck on the anniversary of the 1973 war, launching thousands of rockets into Israel and sending more than 1,000 militants to breach the border fence in an operation dubbed ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’.
Hamas fighters stormed 22 towns, villages, and settlements, as well as a music festival being held near Gaza. Israel responded by launching airstrikes against Gaza, while deploying tanks and artillery to the southern border.
So far, around 1,200 people have been killed in Israel and at least 1,100 in Gaza, according to local officials.