Tank crews from the Seventh Brigade's 75th Battalion train with their new Merkava Mk. 4 tanks.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
In a sign of growing defense and diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Amman, Israel recently transferred an IDF Merkava tank to Jordan.
The tank, one of Israel’s most sophisticated military platforms manufactured domestically, crossed the border between Israel and Jordan in recent weeks aboard a flatbed truck.
The tank will be placed on exhibit at the Royal Tank Museum, established by King Abdullah in 2007 to preserve tanks and armored vehicles used by the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) as well as to showcase other important tanks, like the Merkava, from around the world.
Some of the items on display include tanks used in the Great Arab Revolt as well as various battles with Israel. The main goal of the exhibit is to document the country’s history and to highlight the role Jordan’s army played in preserving and building modern Jordan. The 20,000 square meter museum includes 13 halls where the vehicles are displayed in chronological order. Sound effects and mannequins of soldiers are included in some exhibits for dramatic effect.
Tank museum retells Jordan's military history (Reuters)
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The decision to transfer the tank to Jordan was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman due to the sensitivity of providing an Arab country – even one with which Israel has peace – with one of the country’s most top-secret weapons.
The Merkava is touted as one of the most lethal and protected tanks in the world. Israel decided to construct it out of pure necessity after the United Kingdom and other countries refused to sell Israel tanks in the 1950s and 1960s.
The newest model – known as the Merkava Mk-4 – is the most impressive. It can reach speeds of 40 mph. and comes with a new modular armor kit, meaning that the tank can be ﬁtted with the armor it needs based on the speciﬁc mission it is heading into.
In mid-June, Netanyahu paid an unannounced visit to Amman for a meeting with King Abdullah
. The meeting as well as the recent transfer of the tank came after the two countries recently patched up ties which had been strained by a stabbing and shooting incident at Israel’s embassy compound in Amman last year. After an absence of nine months, Israel dispatched a new ambassador to Amman in April.