U.S. officials have vacillated between denying the presence of American boots on the ground in Israel, and admitting that small numbers of commandos have been deployed to help search for hostages and advise their Israeli counterparts.
US troops have reportedly been dispatched to help secure Israel’s highly sensitive nuclear facilities, including the top secret site at Dimona – the alleged birthplace of the Israeli’s suspected nuclear arsenal.
Sources speaking to an independent online Arabic-language newspaper indicated that the US told a Lebanese intelligence intermediary that American troops “would not participate” in field operations in the Gaza Strip “under any circumstances,” but rather be deployed to “secure and protect” two Israeli research reactors, the Negev Nuclear Research Center near the city of Dimona, and a second facility in the desert near the locality of Yavne in central Israel.
The outlet alleges that up to 2,000 US troops are on the ground inside Israel in total, among them military advisors, technicians, and a sprinkling of troops.
The forces deployed to guard the Israeli nuclear facilities are meant to isolate and protect them from attacks by Hamas’s prospective regional allies, with the contingent provided with “the latest air defense technologies,” according to the paper’s sources.
“These clarifications reached the [Palestinian] resistance leadership exclusively through a Lebanese channel trusted by all parties, and are believed to be linked” to a former director of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate, according to the outlet. The former spy chief is said to have proven a “pivotal figure” in communications between the US on one side and Hamas and Hezbollah on the other.
However, security sources which told an Iranian news agency last month about the presence of some 5,000 US troops inside Israel made mention of US forces being tasked with ensuring security at Israel’s nuclear facilities.
US officials confirmed late last month that US commandos were on the ground in Israel “helping the Israelis to do a number of things,” including “to identify hostages,” in coordination with FBI, State Department and other hostage-recovery specialists. The US presence were there to and advise their Israeli counterparts, but not assigned combatant roles, officials said.
These reports challenge assurances by Vice President Kamala Harris on October 30 that the US had “absolutely no intention nor do we have any plans to send combat troops into Israel or Gaza, period.”
Sputnik reported last month that the Pentagon has been working quietly in recent months to expand Site 512, a previously unacknowledged military base atop Mount Har Qeren in Israel’s Negev Desert.
Along with the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center outside Dimona, Israel is known to operate the Soreq Nuclear Research Center outside Yavne, Israel. The facilities are operated by the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and do not generate power for commercial use.
The Dimona facility has long been suspected to be the birthplace of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies its nuclear weapons status, sticking to a policy known as “deliberate ambiguity.” The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that the country has about 80 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
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