Israel has reportedly agreed to delay the invasion of Gaza so the United States can install missile defenses to protect its regional troops.
The Pentagon is set to deploy almost a dozen air defense systems to protect troops in the region, including Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. agreed with Israel to hold off the invasion until these symptoms are implemented, which will be “as early as later this week.”
Another factor Israel is taking into account is the diplomatic talks being held to free more hostages taken by Hamas and the humanitarian aid being delivered to civilians inside the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli officials.
Threats to U.S. troops were of top concern, said U.S. officials to the Journal.
According to the report, the American military and other officials believe militant groups will target forces once Israel launches its ground invasion of Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.
So far, there have been at least 13 drone and missile attacks against U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, which caused the death of one American contractor. The strikes also demolished an American drone.
At least two dozen U.S. soldiers were injured in attacks inside Iraq, along with a further ten in Iraq, said officials, but added most injuries were minor.
Washington advised Israel to hold off on a Gaza Strip ground assault and is keeping Qatar — a broker with Palestinian militants — informed of the talks as it attempts to free more hostages and prepare for a possible wider regional war, it was reported earlier in the week.
The advisement followed talks that the Pentagon planned to send two Iron Dome missile defense to Israel to help in its defense against inbound missiles and supply additional Patriot air defense missile system battalions in the Middle East along with a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).
The war has sparked fears of a regional conflict if it draws in more of Israel’s enemies — particularly Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a close ally of Hamas and Iran, which has already traded deadly cross-border with forces along the Israel border.
As fighting continued to rage, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah held talks with senior Islamic Jihad and Hamas representatives in Lebanon about how to achieve “real victory…in Gaza and Palestine” and stop Israel’s “brutal aggression,” said the Lebanese movement.
Jordan’s King Abdullah became the latest leader in the region to warn that ongoing violence could “lead to an explosion” in the broader Middle East after talks with visiting President of France Emmanuel Macron.
Macron warned the “massive” Israeli ground incursion in Gaza would be “an error.”
King Abdullah’s wife, Queen Rania, accused Western leaders of a “glaring double standard” for not condemning Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians in its bombing in Gaza.
“Are we being told that it is wrong to kill a family, an entire family, at gunpoint, but its okay to shell them to death?” the queen said in a CNN interview.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli strikes killed eight soldiers in southern Syria, with its Air Force hitting Aleppo airport for the fourth time in two weeks, said the Syrian defense ministry.
French President Macron called for a return to the peace process
French President Macron met his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Wednesday and called for a return to the Israel-Palestinian peace process on the latest leg of his multi-stop crisis tour.
On Tuesday, Macron was in Israel, where he voiced support for the country’s retaliation against Hamas after gunmen from the Islamist group conducted the deadliest attack on Israel in its history on October 7.
According to Israeli authorities, Hamas militants attacked southern Israel and killed over 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
Since the initial Hamas attack, Israel has been relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip, with over 6,500 people killed, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
While in Cairo, Macron said, “France does not practice double standards; international law applies to everyone, and France has always carried the universal values of humanism.”
Macron responded to claims by Arab leaders accusing Western nations of overlooking the harm done to Palestinians.
Jordan and Israel were the first Arab states to form relations with Israel in 1994 and 1979, respectively, and have played critical mediator roles since. Egypt has been one of the leading brokers trying to secure the release of over 200 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
During their joint news conference, Sisi said he and the French president had discussed “the importance of striving to avoid a ground invasion” of Gaza because of the “many, many civilian casualties” it may cause.
After over two weeks of continuous siege and bombardment by Israel, Gaza’s already fragile healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing, with hospitals running out of fuel to power generators and essential supplies.
Today, Macron said that France would send a navy ship to support hospitals in Gaza within the next 48 hours.
France would also send a planeload of medical equipment to Egypt to be transported to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, the only passage in and out of the territory that isn’t under Israeli control.
After several negotiations, humanitarian aid has been allowed to trickle through Rafah slowly; however, the U.N. warns that a significant scale-up is necessary to meet the needs of 2.4 million people in Gaza — half displaced.