US Gen. Mark Milley in Israel amid tensions with Hezbollah

Top US general met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Mossad head Yossi Cohen and spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US Army General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
US Army General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley landed in Israel on Friday morning and met with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and other senior defense officials.
Milley, who landed at the Israel Air Force base of Nevatim in southern Israel, spoke with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with Kochavi over a video conference call due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and discussed the ongoing threats posed by Iran and the various security challenges in the region.
Milley also met with Defense Minister and Alternate PM Benny Gantz and the head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen.
With tensions rising in Israel’s north following the death of a Hezbollah fighter in Syria earlier in the week during an alleged Israeli airstrike, the defense minister warned that the IDF is “prepared and ready” for any scenario or threat.
“We have no interest in escalation, but we will do everything necessary to protect Israeli citizens, by all means, and under all conditions. I do not suggest that our enemies test us.”
Kochavi, who also spoke with Milley about the numerous threats in the region including Iran and it’s proxies, said that the IDF continues to defend the State of Israel in a variety of areas and carries out both defensive and offensive activities.
“The IDF and the US military have a common interest in maintaining regional stability and preventing its violation by Iran or its proxies,” he said, stressing that the IDF is “preparing for a variety of scenarios and will act to the extent necessary to remove any threat that endangers the sovereignty of Israel or its citizens.”
Milley also participated in a panel chaired by Kochavi alongside the American Defense Attache in Israel, Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attache to the US Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox and the head of the IDF’s International Cooperation Unit, Brig.-Gen Efi Dafrin.
As part of the panel, Milley received an intelligence briefing from the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Division, Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heiman, and a strategic review from the head of the recently opened Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Tal Kalman.
As part of the panel, the generals discussed the threats and responses that the IDF has in the various sectors.
“This visit is another example of the strategic and deep cooperation that takes place between militaries,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement, adding that the meetings with officials took place while maintaining distance and wearing masks in accordance with the Health Ministry regulations.
The visit marked the second time Milley has come to Israel since assuming his position in October of last year and comes amid heightened tensions with Iran. His last visit was in November.
During the visit, Gantz stressed to Milley the need to continue the pressure on Iran and its proxies that “threaten regional and global security” alongside the maintaining and strengthening of cooperation with “moderate forces” in the region.
“We are in a period of many challenges and alongside them opportunities to strengthen relations and alliances against extremists in the region,” Gantz said, adding that "the visit during a global pandemic is testament to the close cooperation and the excellent relations between the defense establishment, the IDF and the US Army, which is a cornerstone of Israeli security,” Gantz said.
Milley’s visit came hours before the IDF announced that it was elevating its readiness with changes to troop deployment and enhanced field intelligence activity in the area over concerns that Hezbollah would carry out an attack against military infrastructure or troops in revenge for the death of one of its fighters in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria earlier in the week.