Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressed hope on Tuesday that relations with Turkey would go back to normal, despite a decision by a Turkish court to issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli former defense officials.
“Of course this is regrettable,” Ya’alon said, speaking during a tour of the Jordan Valley Brigade and the IDF’s 162nd Armored Division (the “Steel Formation”). “It seems more political than legal. I hope that affairs with Turkey will work out. We were ready to work out the issue with Turkey and normalize relations with them. I was personally involved in this.”
The warrants were issued in connection with the May 2010 Israel Navy raid on the Turkish, Gaza-bound, Mavi Marmara ship, in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed after attacking and kidnapping naval commandos. A 10th died recently of his wounds.
“Unfortunately,” Ya’alon said, “the Turkish side is lacking readiness to resolve the issue, and this [court indictment] is part of a campaign taking place due to internal Turkish reasons, and other reasons. Irrespectively, the economic and trade relations are welcome, and I hope that diplomatically, relations between the countries and governments will improve in the future.”
Addressing the security situation along the Jordanian border, Ya’alon said it had improved beyond recognition since his days as a soldier in the War of Attrition in the 1960s and ’70s, but there are still “attempts to infiltrate and smuggle contraband through the eastern border.”
“The forces working here are doing an excellent job, and are preventing Israeli citizens from having to face threats,” the defense minister said, adding that military forces in the sector are also effectively quashing Palestinian terrorism, including through the use of night raids on terror suspects.
On May 10, the 162nd Armored Division, received a new commander.
Brig.-Gen. Nadav Padan was appointed head of the formation, replacing Brig.-Gen. Moti Baruch, who held the post for two years.
The division is an all-purpose wartime formation that can be deployed to any sector during a conflagration.
Addressing the incoming commander, OC Central Command Nitzan Alon said: “You are receiving a division that is ready for its missions.
I’m confident that with your skills and wisdom you will know how to lead the division to further achievement, especially during this challenging time that is washing over the IDF, and the regional upheaval that is expected to accompany us.”