EUCOM personnel in Israel unharmed
STUTTGART, Germany — Hamas-backed militants continued to fire rockets into Israel on Monday, but the U.S. European Command military personnel stationed in the Jewish state are well removed from the areas being targeted, a EUCOM spokesman said.
Since September, a EUCOM team that includes soldiers, airmen and Marines has been working to help Israel set up an early warning radar system aimed at providing protection in the event of a missile attack from Iran.
EUCOM spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian said the troops, stationed at an Israeli air base, haven’t had any close encounters
"We don’t have any reports of any difficulties," Dorrian said.
Since Saturday, militants have fired more than 250 rockets and mortars into Israel, killing two people and wounding nearly two dozen more.
Meanwhile, the three-day death toll from Israel’s blitz on Hamas targets in Gaza rose to 364 by Monday afternoon, according to The Associated Press. Israel launched its assault on Saturday in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns.
Initially, 120 EUCOM personnel were dispatched last fall to set up the Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance system, which was made available at the request of Israel’s government. Currently, there are about 100 people from EUCOM who continue to work on the project, Dorrian said.
EUCOM, however, said it did not have any information to report about when those troops would be returning back to their home units. Dorrian also declined to comment on the status of the radar and whether it has become operational.
In November, the U.S. radar was in its final round of tests. The system is reportedly capable of tracking a baseball-size object from a distance of 2,900 miles. It is expected to help Israel by enabling it to more rapidly activate its missile-defense system in the event of an attack. At the time, a EUCOM official said the radar should be operational by mid-December.
Such a radar wouldn’t be helpful against the short-range rockets being used by Hamas-backed militants.
The management and operation of the project is expected to eventually be handed over to Defense Department contractors, which would then allow the troops to return to their units in Europe.
The radar is situated at Nevatim air base in the Negev Desert. According to the military, the radar is purely defensive and useful against medium- and long-range ballistic missile attacks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.