US Joint Chiefs of Staff chair makes unannounced visit to Israel amid escalating tensions in Middle East


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff met with senior defense officials in Israel during a short and unannounced visit there amid rising tensions in the region.

Army Gen. Mark Milley discussed “regional security challenges” with Israeli military’s chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, among others, The Associated Press reported. Milley also spoke by videoconference from the base with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

His visit came at a time of Israel’s escalating tension with Iran, cross-border incidents with Lebanon and airstrikes on Syria blamed on Israel.

Gantz said in a statement released after Friday’s meeting that he emphasized to Milley “the need to continue the pressure on Iran and its proxies that threaten regional and global stability,” according to AP.

Israel reportedly was Milley’s only stop on the overseas trip.

The meeting took place at an Air Force base in southern Israel.

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