Disappointment in Israel after Turkey bans air exercises in an attempt to demonstrate opposition of Israeli’s 2008 offensive against Gazans
The Turkish banning of Israel from participating in international air exercises because of its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip last December has been met with disappointment and regret.
The event, which was due to take place from October 10-23 with air forces from the US and Italy, was canceled after both Washington and Rome withdrew their participation following Turkey’s request to ban Israel from the exercise.
Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, reported that Israel’s foreign ministry had convened an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss Turkey’s decision as there were concerns that strategic ties with Turkey were in jeopardy after Operation Lead Cast which took place in the Gaza Strip in December 2008.
Danny Ayalon, deputy Israeli foreign minister, seemed to be trying to temper tensions on Sunday, referring to Turkey as a “very important strategic anchor in the Mideast.” In fact, Turkey and Israel have been long-term allies but ties have deteriorated dramatically since Ankara condemned the Gaza assault, which left hundreds of Palestinian civilians dead in addition to Hamas members.
Turkey’s surprise cancellation of the exercise is the first time its criticism of Israel has been translated into concrete action. In response to Turkey’s decision against Israel, the US pulled out of the exercise, forcing Ankara to cancel the drill.
In a subtle reminder Israel claimed that it has supplied hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment to Turkey over the years and has renovated Turkish tanks and fighter planes. The officials expressed disappointment with the decision saying that beyond the diplomatic damage, the drill was an important training opportunity for Israeli pilots, who generally are confined to Israel’s limited airspace. The officials expressed disappointment with the decision saying that beyond the diplomatic damage, the drill was an important training opportunity for Israeli pilots, who generally are confined to Israel’s limited airspace and Turkey’s decision has truly come as a blow.