IAF copter cool 298.88.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
Commanders of air forces from NATO nations and senior officers from North African countries - including some without diplomatic relations with Israel - have wrapped up a visit to Israel, where they learned how to fight terrorism from the air.
The event was hosted by IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Elyezer Shkedy, who welcomed some 30 top air-force commanders in Tel Aviv. Beside NATO, participants included officers from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco.
These, together with Israel, were members of Mediterranean basin group set up by NATO in its effort to expand into the region.
According to sources involved with the conference, the IAF shared with the visitors its tactics in using air power to fight Palestinian terrorism. It also outlined its advanced command and control systems.
Channel 2 broke the story of the visit in its report Tuesday night. According to their military reporter Nir Devori, the participants were particularly keen on Israel's successful but controversial policy of targeted killings.
There was general agreement that all the participating nations would cooperate in sharing intelligence to combat terror, sources said.
Air Force and IDF officials declined to discuss the conference in detail other than to confirm that it happened. Military sources said the NATO and Mediterranean dialogue participants conditioned their participation on a total media blackout.
Israel has been gradually expanding its military contact with NATO. The IDF had said that it was prepared to participate in NATO security and counterterrorism missions on a limited and short-term basis.
This past summer, IDF soldiers participated for the first time in a NATO exercise in Ukraine. The drill dealt mainly with anti-terror combat and low-intensity conflict. More joint military ventures are planned.
While the prevailing view in the defense establishment is one that NATO has played out its role by expanding beyond effectiveness, it is still seen as a bridge to regional cooperation through its Mediterranean dialogue initiative.
Israel once sought membership in NATO in the 1950s but was rejected. Full membership today is not on the agenda.
Israel is only interested in limited involvement with NATO because it is hesitant to be tied down by formal military alliances with an organization of 26 nations. The Arab countries too have reacted coolly to Western initiatives to build closer ties based on promoting reform in their nations.