Photo Credit: Nichole Laskavi / Israel Ministry of Defense
L-R: IDF Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, CENTCOM commander General Michael "Erik" Kurilla in Tel Aviv at IDF headquarters on May 30, 2023.

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant met Tuesday night with US CENTCOM Commander, General Michael “Erik” Kurilla at the Defense Ministry’s Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv to brief the American commander on the launch of the two-week IDF military exercise “Firm Hand,” (Fist Punch), which simulates a multi-front threat on the State of Israel.

Gallant expressed his appreciation to Kurilla for his great contribution to the ongoing cooperation and deep bond between the United States and Israel.


The Israeli defense minister also emphasized the importance of US involvement in ensuring stability and expanding the circle of peace in the Middle East.

Gallant underscored the importance of joint exercises between the US and Israel and further deepening cooperation between the respective militaries and defense establishments.

The defense minister was joined by IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi in presenting the achievements of the recent Operation “Shield and Arrow” in Gaza, including the elimination of senior leaders of the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization.

Kurilla is well aware of the threat to Israel from Iran. Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, he warned lawmakers this past March that threats from Iran in the Middle East have increased in the last two years. The US general cited Iran’s progress on enriching uranium, its funding of proxy forces, and drone attacks on its neighbors.

The CENTCOM chief met in January 2023 with Halevi right after he took over from outgoing IDF Chief of General Staff Aviv Kochavi as head of the IDF. At that time, Kurilla spoke with Halevi about regional threats, opportunities to strengthen the US-IDF military relationship, and upcoming training exercises between CENTCOM forces and the IDF.

Kurilla also met with Gallant at the defense ministry headquarters, where the two leaders discussed the importance of deepening defense and technological cooperation between their respective militaries.

In addition, Kurilla visited the Israel Air Force headquarters and Air Operations Center where IAF leadership presented him with detailed briefings, demonstrations of IAF capabilities and advancements, updates on regional threats and opportunities, and an overview of integrated air and missile defense.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.