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Tension overshadows Israel, Turkiye ties over Israel army drill in Cyprus

May 27, 2022 at 11:59 am

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) hold a joint press conference in West Jerusalem on May 25, 2022. [Cem Özdel – Anadolu Agency]

Tension has, in recent days, overshadowed Turkish-Israeli rapprochement over a massive Israeli military training scheduled due to take place in Cyprus in the coming days, Israel’s Kan broadcaster reported yesterday.

Thousands of Israeli soldiers and reservists are taking part in the drill, dubbed Chariots of Fire, including the Israeli Air Force, Israel Navy and regular and reserve forces.

The drill will simulate striking targets far from Israel’s borders with a large number of planes while simultaneously acquiring new targets on various fronts in real-time, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Kan said Turkiye has asked Israel to explain the massive training exercise which will take place in Cyprus.

“This is not the first time the Israeli army conducts training on Cypriot territory, but in light of the new rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, the latter wanted to clarify the sensitivity of the issue, and therefore Israel had sent messages on the issue to senior officials in Turkey, that the issue concerns a military training, and has no other meaning,” the channel said.

On Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his Turkish counterpart in his office in Jerusalem and discussed the need to strengthen and expand economic cooperation between the two countries.

Relations between Turkiye and Israel deteriorated after the assault by Israeli commandos on the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010; nine Turkish citizens on board were killed and another died of his wounds later. The ship was sailing towards the Gaza Strip as part of the Freedom Flotilla to break the Israeli-led siege of the Palestinian enclave. At the time, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

FM: Turkiye, Israel on same page regarding normalisation of ties