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Turkish military ‘trying to provoke an incident’ with Israelis in Mediterranean

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — Turkey has been challenging Israel’s military throughout the Mediterranean.

Military sources said Turkey has used its Navy and Air Force to disrupt Israeli operations around the Mediterranean. They said the Turkish Air Force and Navy harassed Israeli warplanes during patrols and exercises over the last six months.

Greek and Israeli warplanes participate in an exercise.

Greek and Israeli warplanes participate in an exercise.

“They are trying to provoke an incident with us that could have strategic repercussions,” a source said.

The sources said the Turkish military was ordered by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to disrupt Israeli operation near waters or air space claimed by Ankara, including those around the Republic of Cyprus. They said this has hampered recent exercises in the eastern Mediterranean with Greece, including one that took place earlier this month.

“The Turks view us as they do the Greeks, which means that the Turkish military flexes its muscles at every opportunity it gets,” the source said. “In the air, Turkish warplanes are playing a game of chicken with our forces.”

The sources said Ankara has been dismayed by Israel’s growing military
cooperation with Greece. They said the Israeli cooperation, which included
military exercises, training and arms projects, replaced Turkey with Greece
as a leading defense partner of the Jewish state. In November, Israel plans
to host three NATO members in the largest international exercise in the
country.

“Erdogan thought that Turkey could isolate Israel militarily,
particularly in NATO, when the opposite has taken place,” another source
said. “Israel has more military exchanges than ever with individual NATO
members while Ankara has been marginalized.”

The sources said Israel relayed several tough messages to Erdogan to
stop Turkish air and naval provocations. They said the messages, also
directed through the United States, resulted in less aggressive behavior by
Ankara.

Over the last three years, Turkey has severed virtually all military
contact with Israel and led a boycott of all NATO cooperation with the
Jewish state. The sources said Erdogan continues to employ the boycott
despite Israel’s agreement to apologize and compensate the families of eight
Turks killed in a clash with a Turkish-sponsored flotilla that sought to
reach the Gaza Strip in 2010.

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