Gantz: Israel building regional air defense alliance under US

The joint military activities of Israel and some Arab countries in the Gulf are done "out of desperation," a senior Iranian army commander said on Monday.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomes his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, to Israel (photo credit: US EMBASSY)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomes his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, to Israel
(photo credit: US EMBASSY)

Israel is building a US-sponsored regional air defense alliance, the Israeli defense minister said on Monday, adding that the apparatus has already foiled attempted Iranian attacks and could be boosted by President Joe Biden's visit next month.

Drawing closer in recent years to US-aligned Arab states which share their concerns over Iran, Israel has offered them defense cooperation. They have been publicly reticent on the idea.

Unveiling what he dubbed the "Middle East Air Defense Alliance" in a briefing to Israeli lawmakers, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said such cooperation is already underway.

"Over the past year I have been leading an extensive program, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region," he said, according to an official transcript.

"This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries."

THE IRON DOME air defense system fires interceptor missiles over Ashkelon. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)THE IRON DOME air defense system fires interceptor missiles over Ashkelon. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The transcript did not name partner countries nor give further details on the thwarted attacks. Iran, Israel's arch-foe and a regional rival of Arab powers, says any military actions it takes are defensive.

"Over the past year I have been leading an extensive program, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region."

Defense Minister Benny Gantz

"I hope that we will take another step forward in this aspect (of regional cooperation) during President Biden’s important visit," Gantz added.

Joint military activities of Israel, some Arab states are sign of desperation - Iranian commander

The joint military activities of Israel and some Arab countries in the Gulf are done "out of desperation," a senior Iranian army commander said on Monday.

Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi's remarks to Tasnim came after the Israeli defense minister said Israel was building a US-sponsored regional air defense alliance that had already foiled attempted Iranian attacks.

Biden's Middle East trip

During his July 13-16 visit, Biden will come to Israel and continue to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet Arab leaders.

Riyadh was supportive of Israel's 2020 rapprochement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But Saudi Arabia has stopped short of itself normalizing ties with its Israeli neighbor.

As tensions have mounted over Tehran's nuclear program in recent years, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and parts of Iraq have come under UAV or missile strikes that were claimed by or blamed on Iranian-backed militias.