Israel Allegedly Gets Turkish Army's OK For Flights Targeting Iran

September 15th, 2007  

Topic: Israel Allegedly Gets Turkish Army's OK For Flights Targeting Iran

September 15, 2007
Today Zaman
Lale Sariibrahimoglu

As the mystery continues over Syrian allegations that Israeli F-15 jets flew over its territory on Sept. 6, bombing some cities near the Turkish border, there has been increased speculation in Ankara that Tel Aviv received secret permission from the Turkish military for the fight by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fighters.

"Israeli pilots conducted a training mission using a longer route while equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks, dropping them on their way in order to also test their maneuvering without the tanks. I am sure Israel informed the Turkish military about the mission and that it needed to enter into Turkish airspace. During the Sept. 6 event Israeli pilots were on a training mission to test their ability to reach Iran," speculated Ankara-based Western military sources.

Those speculations may also explain the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s relatively low-profile position on the issue, so far refraining from issuing a statement through which it could have sought official explanation from Israel.

Instead, unnamed ministry sources have given verbal explanations to the Turkish press, saying a swift response had been sought from Israel over its alleged violation of Turkish airspace and that fuel tanks allegedly dropped by an Israeli fighter or fighters were found on Turkish soil in the Hatay area, near the Syrian border.

According to Turkish diplomatic sources, Israel informed Turkey that its entry into Turkish airspace was a pilot error. Israel has so far declined to comment on the alleged incidents.

However Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, hosting his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem on Sept. 10, described the Israeli act as “unacceptable” and stated that Ankara has been waiting for an explanation.

Using unnamed diplomatic sources instead of releasing an official statement could be seen as a clue that the Turkish military has again failed to coordinate its actions with political authorities.

For its part, Syria recently complained about Israel to the UN Security Council, but has not yet come up with proof that Israeli fighters actually bombed a Syrian site.

Syria said its air defenses opened fire on Israeli warplanes that had violated Syrian airspace and dropped munitions.

The Turkish and Israeli militaries have strong ties, staging regular training exercises over Turkey’s vast airspace under a military cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 1997.

‘Target was Iran’

Having limited airspace for training purposes, Israel reportedly used a longer Mediterranean route on Sept. 6 to test its pilots’ ability to fly with and without auxiliary tanks.

According to a retired Turkish general, Israel was testing its ability to reach Iran, a country that has been failing to convince the international community that its ultimate target is to obtain an atomic bomb.

“Syria is very close to Israel and you likely don’t need auxiliary tanks for a flight to a neighboring country. To train pilots for a long-distance flight you also need pilots to test auxiliary fuel tanks. Using this long flight equipped with tanks, Israel tested its ability to fly to Iran,” said a retired Turkish general.

“During the training mission pilots dropped auxiliary fuel tanks to see the difference between flying with or without them,” the same source said.

With this long-distance flight, Israel also sent a message to Iran, saying, “Do not develop atomic bombs,” said a Western military source.

During its massive bombardment of Hezbullah targets in Lebanon last year, Israel faced the problem of being unprepared for urban warfare, said the same source, adding, “To be successful in war you have to be trained.”

Seeking to balance ties with all of its Middle Eastern neighbors, the Turkish government has been acting as a facilitator between Israel and Syria so the two countries can start a dialogue to resolve their dispute over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
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September 26th, 2007  
Israel is one of the friendly countries in the region to Turkey. And some even says that there is an alliance. So this is what needs to be.
September 26th, 2007  
A Can of Man
Either way it's a legitimate target. Give Turkey credit. This was a very difficult decision for them to make.

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