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US secretly expands classified military base in occupied territories: Report

IDF and American troops unload a US Air Force cargo plane at an Israeli military base during the Juniper Falcon joint military exercise, February 2019. (File photo by US Army)

The United States quietly expands its secret military base in the Israeli-occupied territories near the besieged Gaza Strip, a report says, as the Tel Aviv regime presses ahead with its bombardment of residential areas in the tightly-besieged enclave.

In a report on Saturday, the American news organization The Intercept said that the Pentagon was quietly moving ahead to construct facilities for American troops at its secret military base – codenamed Site 512 – deep within the Negev desert, just 20 miles from the Gaza Strip.

It added that the longstanding Site 512 is in fact a radar facility, whose mission is monitoring the skies for missile attacks against Israel, yet it failed to detect thousands of rockets fired by the Palestinian Hamas resistance group on October 7 as it focused on possible incoming missiles from Iran, more than 700 miles away.

The Pentagon awarded the $35.8 million US troop facility contract to add barracks-like structures for US personnel to Site 512, which is atop Mt. Har Qeren in the Negev, almost two months before the current war between Israel and Hamas began, it said.

The report comes as US President Joe Biden and his administration claim that Washington has no plan whatsoever to deploy US troops inside Israel to engage in the current war but a secret US military presence in the occupied Palestinian territories already exists, and government contracts and budget documents show it is evidently increasing. 

“Sometimes something is treated as an official secret not in the hope that an adversary would never find out about it but rather [because] the US government, for diplomatic or political reasons, does not want to officially acknowledge it,” Paul Pillar, a former chief analyst at the CIA’s counter-terrorism center who said he had no specific knowledge of the base, told The Intercept.

“In this case, perhaps the base will be used to support operations elsewhere in the Middle East in which any acknowledgment that they were staged from Israel, or involved any cooperation with Israel, would be inconvenient and likely to elicit more negative reactions than the operations otherwise would elicit,” he added.

The Pentagon claims to have prepared 2,000 personnel and a range of units on a heightened standby for potential deployment to Israel, stressing that these forces are not intended to serve in combat roles and are purportedly tasked with advising and medical roles.

The US military has already sent two aircraft carrier groups to the Mediterranean – namely USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. They include one missile cruiser, at least two destroyers, and dozens of aircraft including jet fighters alongside around 5,000 troops.

In response to a surprise attack by the Palestinian Hamas resistance group against Israel on October 7, Israel launched a full-scale war on the impoverished and densely-populated Gaza Strip, where shortages of food, water, and medicine threaten the lives of Gazans and hospitals are overwhelmed amid incessant Israeli bombings.

The ceaseless airstrikes, missile attacks and shelling on Gaza have so far killed 7,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 20,500 others.

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