Top US general in Israel on unannounced trip

US General Michael Kurilla, who heads the military’s central command and has oversight on American forces in the Middle East, has made an unannounced trip to Israel.

“I’m here to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict,” said Mr Kurilla, who is scheduled to meet Israel’s military leadership and is expected to outline US military support for the country.

The American military has been bolstering its strength in the region which is aimed at preventing Iran and other groups from getting involved in the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged fire across the border for days now.

General Kurilla is the latest senior US official to have gone to Israel, and just a day before President Biden is scheduled to visit

Antony Blinken has been explaining why Joe Biden is visiting Israel.

He says the president will “reaffirm the United States solidarity with Israel”.

Blinken says Biden will also work to try and secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

He added that the US president would also hear from Israel how it would conduct its operations in a way that minimises civilian casualties and allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza so that it does not benefit Hamas.

Israeli Air Force says it has hit Hezbollah targets

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) says it has hit Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

The IAF posted a video on X and said the strikes were in response to fire towards Israel from Lebanon.

Hezbollah – the Party of God – is a Shia Islamist political, military and social organisation that wields considerable power in Lebanon.

It emerged with the help of Iran during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, though its ideological roots stretch back to the Shia Islamic revival in Lebanon in the 1960s and ’70s.

Biden visiting Israel: US in diplomatic dash to contain conflict

With Biden headed to Israel on Wednesday to join US state secretary Antony Blinken, it’s a strong show of American support for the country. But the US is also trying to mitigate the civilian casualties in Gaza.

Some analysts questioned whether Biden’s trip to show solidarity with Israel could be seen as provocative. But others suggest it might help to underline a message of restraint.

“He’s a very visceral politician,” says Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. “It may be that he feels that if you’re going to push the Israelis, you can’t push them until you’ve already made clear that you care.”

Where the Biden administration will not push the Israelis is on their assessment of Hamas.

US officials have adopted Israeli language that compares the Palestinian movement to the Islamic State group, saying it was an attack of “sheer evil” unrelated to legitimate frustrations about decades of Israeli occupation and the grinding misery of its 16-year blockade of Gaza.

But an analyst, who described this US policy as “strategic neglect”, said this ignores a chorus of warnings in the year leading up to the attack about an impending “explosion” in the Palestinian territories.

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