The Israeli Navy confirmed that it participated in a US-led exercise with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and some other countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, Dawn news reported.
The US Navy said in a statement on Thursday that more than 9,000 people from 60 militaries took part in the International Maritime Exercise (IMX), which kicked off on January 31.
The participants included Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen who do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Several countries with which Israel recently normalised relations – such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – also participated. Bahrain is a close US ally and hosts the 5th Fleet of the US Navy, the report said.
The biennial drill was launched in 2012 and has become “the largest multinational naval exercise in the Middle East”, the US Navy said.
The Israeli media reported that this was the country’s first participation in a military exercise with countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the state.
Israeli Navy chief David Salama said in a statement that their participation in the American exercise “demonstrates the strengthening connection between our fleets, based on power, mutual learning, and strategic partnership”, the report said.
The Israeli Navy, he said, was “working together with our American partners to prevent terror in the maritime arena and to strengthen the security of the region’s waters”.
The head of the US 5th Fleet, Admiral Brad Cooper, who over the past month has met with Salama, Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, also hailed the growing ties between the two navies.
“This joint exercise demonstrates our determination to protect international law and order. This is a special opportunity to expand our interoperability as we strengthen our naval ties,” Cooper said.
(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.firstname.lastname@example.org)