US pulls American soldiers out of Israel due to Gaza conflict

Military personnel were in Israel for a planning conference, but left early due to the conflict with the Hamas terror group.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The U.S. military decided that due to “caution and good prudence” a group of visiting American soldiers left a planning conference early and returned to their base in Germany, The Hill reported Thursday.

At the Pentagon, Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said 120 soldiers from the U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command returned to Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Thursday.

“We made this decision to remove these individuals in coordination with our Israeli counterparts,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the American soldiers had been in Israel “for a routine planning event” dealing with an upcoming military exercise.

The planning conference concerning the routine work preparing the details of the military exercise was scheduled to end at the end of the week, but the Pentagon moved up the soldier’s departure by a few days as the IDF pounded terrorist targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire on Israeli civilians.

“Out of an abundance of caution and good prudence … we ended that planning conference a little early and got them safely to Germany,” Kirby said, adding he was not aware of any other plans or efforts to remove any other Americans from Israel.

The move was first reported by CNN first when a Pentagon official told the network that continuing violence and limited commercial flight options affected the decision.

Another reason for the early departure may have been the need for the IDF personnel attending the conference to shift to operational duty as Israel ramped up its defensive operation against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.

On Thursday Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered a callup of an additional 9,000 Israeli reservists and the IDF pummeled Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza in response to the massive terrorist rocket fire at Israeli population centers that began Monday.

There is close cooperation and coordination between the Israeli and American militaries, with the countries holding numerous joint annual and biennial exercises.

Last year the IDF was forced to cancel its participation in a major joint military exercise with the U.S. European Command due to the coronavirus epidemic.

However, Israel’s Air Force held a joint F-35 fighter jet military exercise with its U.S counterparts using “social distancing,” as the only meetings were by the airborne pilots in their advanced stealth bombers.