With Turkey drilling for oil and gas in what it says are disputed areas in the East Mediterranean off the island, Cyprus forces took part in the waters with France and Greece in an Israeli-led Noble Dina naval exercise.
That happens annually but was postponed in 2020 because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic and this time too place west of the island and included drills in counter-terrorism, said Defense News and media reports.
The exercise series, which took place west of Cyprus, previously included counterterrorism scenarios and drills to protect ports as well as anti-submarine procedures.
The navies also conducted search-and-rescue scenarios as well as a drill simulating battle between ships, the Israel Defense Forces said, Israel sending a submarine and the INS Romach, a Sa’ar 4.5-class missile boat housing anti-submarine systems. In total, Greece, France, Cyprus and Israel sent six ships, including submarines.
“The Navy led a large-scale exercise in which it implemented capabilities in underwater warfare, search and rescue, convoy escort and surface combat," Rear Admiral Eyal Harel, the head of Israeli Naval Operations, said.
“These exercises are of paramount importance in strengthening the Navy’s connection with foreign fleets who share common interests,” he added.
Israel and Turkey were once close allies but had a major falling-out in 2010, when 10 Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli forces as a Turkish-led flotilla tried to break Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The two countries agreed to a U.S.-brokered reconciliation agreement in 2016, but ties broke down two years later over a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)