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Report: Israel army chief of staff met 5 Arab army commanders in Bahrain

June 13, 2024 at 1:17 pm

Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, Herzi Halevi, in Jerusalem on 6 May, 2024 [AMIR COHEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

In a move that has been perceived by many as a betrayal of the Palestinian people, top generals from several Arab countries, including Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, met with their Israeli counterpart earlier this week in Manama, Bahrain, to discuss regional security cooperation. The low-profile meeting, reported by Axios, was coordinated by the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) and took place amidst Israel’s ongoing military onslaught on Gaza, which has claimed the lives of over 36,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are women and children.

The gathering, which has not been publicly disclosed due to the sensitive political climate surrounding Israel’s military operation in the besieged enclave, was attended by General Herzi Halevi, the chief of the general staff of the Israeli military, and US General Michel “Erik” Kurilla. The meeting served as a signal that military dialogue and cooperation between Israel and Arab countries continue under CENTCOM, despite the harsh public criticism of the apartheid state.

Read: Why did the United States add Israel to CENTCOM?

The decision by Arab countries to engage with Israel during a time of intense suffering for the Palestinian people has drawn sharp criticism from across the Arab world. Many view the meeting as a tacit endorsement of Israel’s actions in Gaza and a prioritisation of regional security interests over the plight of the Palestinians.

“If true, it would be a scandal like no other,” said university Professor Sami Al-Arian, a descendant of 1948 expelled Palestinian refugees. “It shows the complicity of the US, the Zionist regime and five US Arab allies in the region.”

In recent years, CENTCOM and the Pentagon have been working with militaries in the region to bolster cooperation on air and missile defence. There is speculation that CENTCOM played a role in Israel’s massacre of Palestinians last week at the Nuseirat refugee camp.

The US considers the defeat of Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack against Israel on 13 April as a major achievement resulting from this collaborative effort with the Arab regimes. US officials stated that cooperation with Israel and Arab countries in the region allowed them to gather intelligence and obtain early warnings of the attack.

The officials also noted that the cooperation included the active participation of Jordan and Saudi Arabia in intercepting missiles and drones that passed through their airspace after being fired from Iran, Iraq and Yemen toward Israel.

READ: US CENTCOM Commander visited Israel during Nuseirat camp massacre