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US quietly sent American Air Force unit to aid Israel in Gaza genocide

January 12, 2024 at 1:19 pm

Residents and civil defense teams carry out a search and rescue operation around the rubble of the building that is demolished after Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on January 8, 2024 [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

The US is quietly providing intelligence to Israel for targeting purposes in Gaza, deploying US Air Force “intelligence engagement officers on the ground,” according to a deployment order obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and published at the Intercept.

While the administration of President Joe Biden has publicly insisted US forces are not directly aiding Israel’s military campaign in Gaza beyond the rescue of prisoners of war, the newly uncovered deployment orders suggest American personnel are secretly advising on offensive target selection and intelligence gathering.

Freedom of Information Act materials show the US Air Force dispatched officers specialising in “targeting intelligence” to Israel in late November as concerns that Israel is carrying out genocide in Gaza started to grow. The revelation contradicts assurances that US advisers are solely focused on hostage recovery.

READ: Israel’s AI system for target selection has generated ‘mass assassination factory’ in Gaza

“I’ve directed my team to share intelligence and deploy additional experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise the Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts,” said Biden three days after the Hamas attack.

But several weeks later, on 21 November, the US Air Force issued deployment guidelines for officers, including intelligence engagement officers, headed to Israel, the Intercept reported.

Experts say the team would likely provide satellite imagery and analysis directly used for Israeli bombing of suspected Hamas sites in densely populated Gaza. This sensitive targeting support allows the US to coordinate with Israel’s military while avoiding public scrutiny.

The deployment order was issued by the Pentagon’s air component command for the Middle East, Air Forces Central (for Central Command). The document provides deployment instructions to airmen sent to the country, including “airmen assigned as the Intelligence Engagement Officer (IEO)” — personnel who specialise in sharing sensitive intelligence with partner militaries.

Rights advocates argue that by bolstering Israeli capabilities, Washington makes itself complicit in potential war crimes including genocide. US administration statements celebrate supporting Israel’s “self-defence” but conceal specifics of weapons supplied to the occupation state and intelligence provided to target Palestinians.

“As a general matter, US officials who are providing support to another country during armed conflict would want to make sure they are not aiding and abetting war crimes,” Brian Finucane, a former legal adviser for the State Department who now works for Crisis Group, told the Intercept.