Turkey, Israel to hold joint exercises

Despite tensions between J'lem and Ankara, Mediterranean search-and-rescue drill will proceed.

Navy gunships 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Navy gunships 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel will take part in a joint naval exercise with Turkey this summer despite months of tense relations between Jerusalem and Ankara. Defense officials said the Israel Navy would allocate at least one missile ship to participate in a search-and-rescue exercise in the Mediterranean Sea in July. Other NATO member countries are expected to join the drill. The Israeli and Turkish navies have enjoyed years of strong ties and participate annually in joint maneuvers throughout the region. While there was never a real fear that this year's exercise would be canceled, the possibility was raised due to the strained relations between Turkey and Israel since Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan castigated Israel during Operation Cast Lead, defense officials said. OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi also raised Ankara's ire in February when he told a conference of IDF officers at the National Defense College that Erdogan needed to look in the mirror before criticizing Israel. Mizrahi said Turkey was not in a position to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza when it stations troops in northern Cyprus and massacred Armenians during World War I. Mizrahi's comments followed Erdogan's harsh criticism of Israel at the World Economic Forum in Davos during a panel with President Shimon Peres.