turkey soldiers 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Turkish Navy will bolster its presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to
prevent Israeli operations, Turkish officials said over the weekend, as the
crisis between Jerusalem and Ankara intensified following the publication of the
Palmer Report on last year’s flotilla conflict.
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“A more aggressive
strategy will be pursued. Israel will no longer be able to exercise its bullying
practices freely,” a Turkish diplomatic source was quoted as saying in the
Hurriyet Daily News. The source said that the navy would accompany ships
bringing aid to the Gaza Strip.
Turkey has threatened to deploy its navy
to accompany aid ships to the Gaza Strip in the past.
Ahead of the recent
flotilla that tried to set sail from Greece in June, the Israel Navy had raised
concern that Turkish Navy ships would accompany Turkish aid ships. Such a
scenario however never materialized.
Despite the new crisis, the IDF does
not plan on recalling the newly-appointed military attaché to Ankara who took up
his post last month. The new attaché is Col. Moshe Levi, former head of the Gaza
Coordination and Liaison Administration.
Israeli and Turkish defense ties
mostly came to a standstill following Israel’s operation to stop the Turkish
flotilla last year, which ended with nine dead Turkish nationals aboard the Mavi
“There are no sales and no joint exercises
between us and Turkey,” a defense official said on Friday. “There is also
nothing planned for the near future.”
The official noted that if Turkey
followed through with cutting all defense ties with Israel, the move would have
a negative impact on Turkish defense companies which are dependent on Israeli
companies for technology and exports.
One example is the joint venture
that Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems and Turkey’s Aselsan
established, which won a $183 million contract in 2005 to deliver Heron 1
unmanned aerial vehicles to the Turkish military. UAV deliveries have been
completed, but Israeli defense contractors continue to travel to Turkey to
provide maintenance support.
Another example is a joint venture between
Israel Military Industries and Aselsan to upgrade M60A1 main battle tanks. The
two companies completed the delivery last year of 170 tanks to the Turkish army
in a $687m. deal. According to recent reports, the companies were vying for a
new contract in Colombia.
“The Turkish companies will not be able to bid
for contracts without the Israeli companies,” the official
Meanwhile, as ties with Turkey continue to deteriorate, Israel
is bolstering its ties with Greece.
On Sunday, the Greek Defense Minister
Panos Beglitis will arrive in Israel for talks with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.
Beglitis will be met by an honor guard at the Defense
Ministry in Tel Aviv on Sunday and will tour IDF bases, as well as Israeli
Greece and Israel have strengthened defense ties in
recent years and both air forces have held a number of joint drills in Greece
over the past year.