American special operations forces are on the ground in Israel helping locate the hostages Hamas brought into Gaza after the October 7 attack on southern Israel, a Pentagon official said on Tuesday.
“We’re actively helping the Israelis to do a number of things,” said Christopher P. Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, according to The New York Times. He said the main task is to “identify hostages, including American hostages.”
Maeir did not say how many US commandos were in Israel, but US officials told the Times that several dozen had been deployed in addition to a small team that was already in Israel on October 7. Shortly after the Hamas attack, the Pentagon offered Israel special operations support.
The Times report said that the US commandos were not assigned to combat roles, and so far, there’s no indication that US troops are on the ground in Gaza as Israeli forces are pushing further into the enclave. Maier said the special operators were talking through with their Israeli counterparts “what is going to be a very complex fight going forward.”
The deployment demonstrates how deeply involved the US is in Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. Due to the full-throated support, US bases in Iraq and Syria have come under attack dozens of times, and the risk of a full-blown regional conflict continues to grow.